Giants

Key Giants position battles as MLB 30-man roster deadline approaches

Giants

Very little of Monday's attention was paid to the actual action on the field, but the Giants had nine innings to play -- they beat the A's -- and a little more evaluating to do. Before the game, manager Gabe Kapler said a couple of spots are still up for grabs before the team has to announce a roster Thursday morning. 

You would think we have a lot more clarity after three weeks of Summer Camp. But the Giants have lost their starting catcher, third baseman and first baseman, along with two guys who were locked into the bullpen and an outfielder who was an easy choice for the bench. 

There are decisions to be made. With 24 hours until the roster is released, here's an updated look at position battles: 

Catcher

For a decade, the Giants had more stability here than anyone, worrying only about their backup situation. That all changed when Buster Posey opted out of this season to take care of adopted twins who were born prematurely, and two days from the opener, it's unclear who will start in his place. 

Joey Bart has had the best month in camp, but the Giants will almost certainly send him to Sacramento for more development. That leaves Rob Brantly, Tyler Heineman and Chad Tromp, who has had a solid couple of weeks. 

 

Brantly hasn't been seen much in exhibitions, although maybe that's just respect being shown for a veteran. Heineman has impressed with his hustle and intellect between the lines and looks like a lock for one of the two spots. The guess here is Heineman starts Thursday, Brantly is the backup and Tromp travels as part of the three-man taxi squad, at least until the Giants decide it's time for Bart. 

Infield

With Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt due to miss the start of the season, the Giants have some wiggle room here. Brandon Crawford, Yolmer Sanchez, Wilmer Flores, Pablo Sandoval, Donovan "Donnie Barrels" Solano and Darin Ruf should be locks, with Flores and Ruf potentially seeing a lot of time this weekend against three Dodgers lefties. With Longoria and Belt initially out, the Giants will have no issues carrying all the infielders they like, and they can go heavier in the outfield.

Outfield

Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, Hunter Pence and Austin Slater are the locks, along with Mauricio Dubon, who is included here because there's a strong chance he's the center fielder on Thursday. Jaylin Davis was in a tougher spot a few weeks ago, but the Giants need right-handed pop and he should be an easy choice. 

Steven Duggar was optioned to Triple-A before the original camp ended and Joe McCarthy wasn't far behind, but both could be at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Duggar has had a solid camp and the Giants need an elite defensive center fielder on their bench with Billy Hamilton still running behind. McCarthy is an option at first base with Belt out, and that could get him in the big leagues this week. 

Rotation

I can tell you that Johnny Cueto will start Thursday and Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly will follow in some order. Maybe? I mean, who knows. 

Kapler has been remarkably coy about his rotation plans, and the situation was further muddied when Gausman, Smyly and Tyler Anderson all pitched Monday in Oakland. 

The Giants won't have a true five-man rotation. They'll use openers and piggyback starters, but the four listed above, plus Anderson and Logan Webb, are the best bets to actually "start" the most games.

Bullpen

Tyler Rogers dominated last September. He dominated this spring. He has dominated in Summer Camp, and he will start Tuesday's game as an opener just to get used to the feeling. 

Tony Watson has had no recent issues with his shoulder and will again be there in the eighth or ninth, and Trevor Gott is a lock, as well. Lefty Wandy Peralta should be written in pen, too, especially with Jarlin Garcia likely to miss some time as he recovers from an undisclosed medical issue. 

The rest of this was hard to figure out three weeks ago and isn't much clearer now. Hard-throwing righty Carlos Navas looks like he's on the team and Rico Garcia has seen a lot of action. Sam Coonrod should have a spot. Caleb Baragar is making a push for a lefty spot, although the Giants may at some point run out of players they can clear from their 40-man for newcomers. 

 

[RELATED: Why Tyler Rogers will start Tuesday]

Kapler talks often of "bulk innings" guys, and Shaun Anderson, Andrew Suarez, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Triggs are among the options here. Trevor Cahill was once a lock but he has been slowed by an injury. 

Farhan Zaidi said recently that he still thinks new contributors will emerge.

"We obviously had a veteran group (last year). We're going to have a much younger group this year," he said. "But I think we're going to have some guys really step up and do a nice job for us."