Giants

Roster breakdown: Where Giants stand one week from MLB Winter Meetings

longoriabeltpanikusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Roster breakdown: Where Giants stand one week from MLB Winter Meetings

SAN FRANCISCO -- On his first day on the job, Farhan Zaidi said the goal of the front office would be to form a 40-man roster "where taking any player off gives you heartburn."

So far, the 40-man has only seen subtractions. Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez were the latest to go, leaving Zaidi with 34 players on his roster with one week until the start of the Winter Meetings. He has flexibility, but he also has work to do.

Here's a breakdown of where the roster stands as we approach the busiest part of the offseason:

Catcher: Buster Posey remains on track to be ready by spring training, but at the moment, the Giants have just one other catcher on the roster. They would be fine with Aramis Garcia as their backup, but expect them to add at least one veteran in the coming weeks. Nick Hundley is still out there. 

Corner Infield: Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria might end up being trade chips, but at the moment they make up the heart of the order. There haven't been any real changes here, and unless he trades one of those two guys, Zaidi doesn't really need to add.

The Giants owe Pablo Sandoval just the MLB minimum next season and he fits well with Zaidi's idea of team chemistry. 

Middle Infield: Joe Panik signed a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration, but that doesn't mean the Giants won't trade him at some point. For now, the Panik-Crawford duo is set to be back in the infield, with Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino the only players behind them on the 40-man roster.

Kelby Tomlinson is a Diamondback and Chase d'Arnaud is a free agent. Hanson and Avelino are pretty interesting in this new era. Zaidi likes versatility and could be open to playing Hanson all over the field more, especially because he has significant platoon splits. Avelino is playing winter ball and could be another do-everything piece. Expect at least one addition to this group in the coming weeks. 

Outfield: The Giants have just four outfielders on their 40-man roster and all are relatively unproven. Steven Duggar is the center fielder, but look for Zaidi to add significant depth to a group that also includes Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater.

The Giants don't appear to be in on the biggest player in this market, but there are other options who can give the lineup a boost. 

Rotation: Assuming they don't trade Madison Bumgarner -- I don't believe they will this offseason -- the Giants have a pretty good start here with Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija is said to be doing well, but this is the main area where Zaidi is looking to add depth.

Remember, the Dodgers regularly loaded up on starters when Zaidi was GM. It wouldn't be a surprise to see at least a couple of veterans brought in, giving the Giants some wiggle room if Samardzija isn't back to his old form. There are some sleeper options in terms of starters. 

Bullpen: Strickland made 244 appearances for the Giants over the last four seasons, but that workload can be replaced by the emergence of Reyes Moronta and possibly Ray Black. The bullpen is an area where Zaidi has traditionally looked for cheap breakout options, which means the Rule 5 Draft could be a bit more interesting for the Giants this winter, and they likely will add more options than in past years.

Guys like Melvin Adon -- recently added to the 40-man roster -- could be on the fast track. The Giants are actually in pretty good shape here, but it would be smart to build depth. If they're fading near the trade deadline, trading relievers will be the easiest way to stockpile prospects, and Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson will be on the block. 

Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

ajpollockusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.

What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.

Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.

While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.

And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.

MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

grayredsusatsi.jpg
USATSI

MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but it doesn't appear he'll make a return to the Bay Area.

Per Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Reds are engaged in trade discussions that would send Gray to Cincinnati in exchange for infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick.

Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home. 

Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.