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Giants waiting for crucial info as spring training nears

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As he answered a big-picture question last week, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi mentioned that the Giants aren't sure if the expanded postseason will remain. That could have a huge impact on their fortunes in 2021, but it's not the only info teams are missing right now. 

MLB still has not finalized decisions on the major rule changes that were added in 2020, although USA Today reported recently that the seven-inning doubleheaders and runner-on-second rule for extra innings are likely to be implemented again. There's still no clarity on the universal DH or expanded postseason, though. 

"We've gotten some updates and some feedback from the league, but no final decisions," Zaidi said. "I would anticipate us hearing before we get to camp."

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Reporting day is about three and a half weeks away for the Giants, and two of the rules could have a huge impact on how they put together the rest of their roster and their playoff odds during the regular season. 

Zaidi said earlier this offseason that he had been told to build as if the universal DH is going away, but in recent weeks many around the game have said they wouldn't be surprised if it returns. If it does, the Giants would have an extra lineup spot to work with, and they potentially could become a home for Marcell Ozuna, one of the biggest names left on the market. The Giants had interest in Ozuna early in the offseason. Even putting Ozuna aside, the DH spot could make it easier to add another big outfield bat, with the Giants knowing that player could see DH time along with Darin Ruf and Alex Dickerson. The universal DH would also open more at-bats for Wilmer Flores. 

 

The bigger issue will be the expanded postseason. There's no doubt the Giants are more talented and deeper than they were a year ago, with Buster Posey returning to join free-agent additions. But with a normal bracket, it would be really difficult for the Giants to get into the postseason race. 

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres might be the two best teams in all of baseball, and the predictions across the board will be that one will win the NL West and the other will get a wild-card spot. The Braves and Mets don't look like they're far behind, and if they run away from the pack in the NL East that would leave just one playoff spot, which would go to the NL Central winner. 

According to USA Today, MLB would like to bring back the universal DH in exchange for a postseason field that's expanded to 14 teams, two fewer than a year ago, but two more than in previous seasons. The Giants hope to add another left-handed bat and potentially another starter and some bullpen help, but as you wait for those moves, keep an eye on the league office. The biggest boost to the Giants may come with a decision from MLB on what the 2021 season will truly look like.