How Farhan Zaidi will increase Giants' depth just like he did with Dodgers

How Farhan Zaidi will increase Giants' depth just like he did with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants waited for an interview with Farhan Zaidi, they made several roster moves, clearing out spots on the 40-man roster. These moves were procedural, but they also left Zaidi with more of a clean slate, which is exactly what he likes. 

Zaidi's biggest strength as general manager of the Dodgers may have been his ability to build 40-man roster depth, particularly when it comes to position players. That has been a weakness for the Giants, who could not withstand injuries the last two seasons. 

On Wednesday, his first day in charge, Zaidi talked about casting a wide net for players and noted that "no move is too small to not be worth a certain level of effort and detail."

When the Giants made those moves in October, they were not particularly noteworthy. They were clearing out utility infielders, mostly, guys not fit for an everyday role if someone got hurt. One look at the Dodgers' 40-man shows the differences. In the outfield alone, the Dodgers had Joc Pederson, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Enrique Hernandez, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo as options. 

Verdugo, who couldn't find time in Los Angeles, would be the Giants' top prospect. If he were a Giant, he may have been in the Opening Day lineup. Toles, as a Giant, might be the everyday left fielder and leadoff hitter. 

With the Dodgers, they were depth pieces, and this is exactly what Zaidi hopes to build in San Francisco: A 40-man roster deep enough to withstand injuries.

"A baseball front office, one of its primary goals, should be to create a 40-man roster where taking any player off gives you heartburn,"  he said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "When you have soft spots on the 40-man roster that probably means that you're leaving value on the table somewhere.

"Arriving here, there's actually quite a bit of room on the 40-man roster and I think one of our goals is going to be to create and add depth to the organization by just maximizing that and to make sure that everybody that's on that 40-man has a chance to be a contributor for us in 2019." 

Willie Mays puts out statement to honor Kobe Bryant

Willie Mays puts out statement to honor Kobe Bryant

Across the NBA on Sunday, teams honored Kobe Bryant by letting the 24-second shot clock run out. A day later, baseball's most famous No. 24 honored the Lakers legend who has his No. 24 hanging in the rafters at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. 

The Giants put out a statement from Willie Mays on Monday afternoon in which the Hall-of-Famer said Bryant's passing Sunday "hit me hard" and wrote, "What a gift to have known him, even just a little."

The 41-year-old Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.

[RELATED: Draymond issues emotional message regarding Kobe's death]

As the sports world mourned Sunday, several current and former Giants sent out tributes to Bryant, including Brandon Crawford, Barry Bonds and Kevin Pillar, who grew up rooting for the Lakers. 

Bryant was survived by his parents, wife Vanessa and their daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri. 

How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason


How Giants compare to NL West division rivals after quiet offseason

The last big piece came off the board early Monday morning, when Nicholas Castellanos signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Castellanos had been a target for the Giants, who now seem likely to head to Scottsdale with Kevin Gausman as their biggest free-agent acquisition of the offseason. That's not unexpected -- it's what happens when you're taking a step back, as the Giants are. 

But Farhan Zaidi has also repeatedly said that he intends to be competitive as late into the season as possible, and the Giants certainly would like to get Gabe Kapler's tenure off to a solid start after the way his hire was received locally. They have plenty of ground to make up to reach that goal, with Madison Bumgarner, Kevin Pillar and other key contributors now gone from a roster that finished 29 games behind the Dodgers and eight behind the Diamondbacks. 

The Giants won't win the NL West this year. Even they would tell you that. But how close can they stay? Where might they actually finish? Here's a rundown of what the other four teams in the West did this offseason and how they're looking as we approach that magical day when pitchers and catchers finally report ... 

The overwhelming favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers

Winners of the division for seven consecutive seasons, there's no reason to think they won't make it eight. The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu to the Blue Jays and Rich Hill to the Twins, but they keep churning out young talent, a sustainable model the Giants are trying to follow. In Julio Urias, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, they have more than enough young depth to fill out the rotation, and they added a couple of guys who seemed to make more sense for a team like the Giants -- Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson. Neither is far removed from All-Star caliber pitching and if the Dodgers hit on one of those veterans their rotation again will be a strength. 

Blake Treinen was another reclamation project who made sense for the Giants, but the Dodgers gave the former A's closer $10 million to see if he can find his 2018 form. If he does, the Dodgers may finally solve their biggest problem. 

There was a strong run at Gerrit Cole and a brief flirtation with Anthony Rendon, and the Dodgers reportedly still are sniffing around about a Mookie Betts trade, but ultimately they seem to be betting that they can make their big move in July, and why wouldn't they? The lineup was already a powerhouse and top prospects Gavin Lux and Will Smith are set for a full season. This team should be easily headed for a playoff spot by the trade deadline, allowing Andrew Friedman to take another crack at adding the type of impact talent that can help the Dodgers end a drought that might have ended three years ago if the Astros had played it fair. 

The new rival: Arizona Diamondbacks

For once, the Dodgers won't be the NL West opponent that brings the most intrigue to Oracle Park.

Every time the Diamondbacks visit, they'll bring Bumgarner with them, and there's a good chance the Giants will have to face their longtime ace four or five in 2020. 

There are plenty of reasons Bumgarner chose the desert, and a desire to play competitive baseball is high on the list. The Diamondbacks very quietly won 85 games last year and will count on Bumgarner to lead a young rotation. They'll also lean on Stephen Vogt, who turned a strong season as Buster Posey's backup into a $3 million deal with Arizona. Vogt is as good a clubhouse guy as there is in the game today, and he'll join Bumgarner in taking direct aim at the Dodgers. 

Giving Bumgarner $85 million was the big splash, but the Diamondbacks also signed Kole Calhoun to a two-year deal, adding an outfielder who had 33 homers last season. Hector Rondon, a former closer with the Cubs and Astros, was added to the bullpen, and on Monday morning the Diamondbacks were finalizing a deal for Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, per multiple reports. 

Adam Jones, who had some nice moments for them early last year, is in Japan now, but that's about the only noteworthy loss for a team that traded Paul Goldschmidt last offseason and Zack Greinke in July. 

To add to it, Arizona has acquired outfielder Starling Marte via trade with Pittsburgh to bolster that outfield and give the other Marte, Ketel, a chance to have a permanent position in the infield. 

The end of the rebuild: San Diego Padres

Rival players and officials have been waiting a couple of years for the Padres to finally become what A.J. Preller has envisioned, and they have continued to be aggressive in a bid to end a lengthy rebuild. It was no surprise when The Athletic reported they were after Betts; they're in on plenty of big names these days, but this was a quieter offseason after a couple of previous splashes that brought Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to town. 

The Padres really could have used hometown kid Stephen Strasburg, but he stayed with the reigning champs. Their big free agency splash ended up being Drew Pomeranz, who sneakily had one of the greatest bouncebacks of 2019. The lefty signed a $1.5 million deal with the Giants, pitched his way out of the rotation, started throwing 97 mph, dominated for two months in Milwaukee, and signed a four-year, $34 million deal to return to San Diego. The new repertoire looked real and sustainable once Pomeranz switched to relieving, but that's still a risky contract to give a bullpen piece. 

The Padres will count on a young rotation -- led by Chris Paddack and potentially top prospect Mackenzie Gore -- but they still could use more consistency here (it'll be interesting to see if Bumgarner opens up about his options; he would have been a great fit for the Padres). Veteran righty Zach Davies is in and lefty Eric Lauer is now a Brewer. 

The lineup will have a much different look. Tommy Pham, an on-base machine, came over from the Rays in a deal that cost the Padres Hunter Renfroe and prospect Xavier Edwards. Young outfielder Trent Grisham was added in a trade with the Brewers, who got second base prospect Luis Urias. The Padres filled that hole by acquiring Jurickson Profar from the A's. 

A Betts deal seems unlikely and the Padres still could use pitching, but they're hopeful this is the year if finally comes together. A healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. would go a long way towards guaranteeing it does. He turned 21 earlier this month, and it wouldn't at all be a surprise to see him standing as one of the top five players in the National League by the end of the summer.  

[RELATED: Could young Giants starters end up in bullpen?]

The mess: Colorado Rockies

How do you screw things up with Nolan Arenado so badly that he's texting beat writers and expressing his frustration with management? That was the highlight of the offseason for the Rockies, who whiffed badly in previous attempts to spend -- Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, etc. -- and basically sat out the last three months (seriously, MLB's official page shows five transactions for the Rockies in December and January and four of them were for players being moved off the active roster). 

The Rockies went 71-91 last year (finishing six games behind the Giants), haven't signed a player to a guaranteed Major League deal this offseason and have a bloated payroll. It's hard to see how this ends with anything but an Arenado trade and a full rebuild.