Derek Law

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

[RELATED: Giants top prospect Bart awarded for impressive spring]

Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made. 

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

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AP

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a crushing loss in the NLDS three years ago, the Giants had a choice to make. They ultimately went out and spent $62 million on a closer, but back then, there were factions of the organization that preferred for the solution to come internally, with Derek Law one of a few potential options for the ninth inning. 

Law was coming off a strong rookie season and was a big part of the future at Oracle Park. Two years later, he found himself sitting at home as the rest of his teammates gathered for FanFest, where he’s usually one of the more entertaining players on the stage. Law was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for John Andreoli, who later would also be DFA’d. 

“I kind of knew nobody was going to pick me up, because if guys aren’t signing all the free agents that are really darn good, then they’re not going to take a chance on me,” he said. “It’s kind of a kick in the nuts, because 29 other teams didn’t take you.”

The roster churn has become a part of daily life in the Giants clubhouse, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take when your name gets called. Law was caught off guard a bit. He didn’t get DFA’d until Feb. 1, and by that time he already had his spring training flights booked. 

[RELATED: Breaking down Giants' camp competitions as games begin]

After he was done throwing one morning in Pittsburgh, Law saw that he had a missed call from a San Francisco area code. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley gave him the bad news.

“When it finally happens,” Law said, “You’re in a weird sort of limbo.”

The waiver process is a quiet one if you go unclaimed. Law didn’t hear anything about his future until the sixth day of the seven-day period. A day later, the Giants announced he was outrighted to Triple-A and would be in big league camp, this time as a non-roster player. Ironically, Andreoli went through the exact same transaction. 

The timing was poor in a number of ways, including the fact that Law preparing for what he felt could be a huge camp. He says this is the best he has felt physically since coming back from Tommy John rehab. After two down years, Law started throwing earlier in the offseason, and he was taking part in live BP sessions before the rest of the Giants got to Scottsdale. 

Law’s peripheral numbers were better in the second half of the 2018 minor league season after he altered his pitch mix. He even found himself excited by the addition of Farhan Zaidi. Offseason workout partner Adam Liberatore pitched under Zaidi with the Dodgers and told Law that Zaidi would find ways to play to his strengths. 

Then came the bad news, but perhaps Law can find hope in something Zaidi has said repeatedly. The new president of baseball operations believes strongly in looking at a player’s track record from a few years back, and Law, still just 28, isn’t too far removed from posting a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances as a rookie. 

[RELATED: Ray Black embracing analytics ahead of second season]

That’s the type of performance the Giants have not forgotten. 

“This is going to be big for him, how he bounces back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s always a tough deal coming off a roster. You can handle it one of two ways: You get down on yourself, or show that you deserve to be back on the roster and be up here. I think he’s got a great attitude.”

That showed the day Law walked into camp, a smile on his face as he hugged teammates. The roster move was bad timing, but Law said he won’t allow it to change the way he approaches the season. This is an organization that has sped up the pace of transactions, but that also means you can quickly be back on the positive end when you pitch well. 

“The silver lining is I’m here,” he said, “And we’ll see what happens at the end of the spring.”

Giants DFA Derek Law, claim outfielder John Andreoli from Rangers

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AP

Giants DFA Derek Law, claim outfielder John Andreoli from Rangers

SAN FRANCISCO — The man who once looked like the closer of the future is no longer a Giant.

Derek Law was designated for assignment Friday morning when the Giants claimed outfielder John Andreoli from the Texas Rangers. 

Law broke through with a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances in 2016 and some in the organization thought the best solution for the bullpen moving forward was to put Law in a high-leverage role. Instead, Mark Melancon was signed to a four-year deal to take over the ninth and Law took a step back the following season.

He had a 5.06 ERA in 2017 and it was 7.43 in just seven appearances in 2018, as Law struggled to find the pinpoint command that made him so successful as a rookie and prospect. 

Andreoli, 28, joins a group of outfielders with little experience but a huge opportunity. The Giants currently have two open starting spots and nothing locked in on their bench, and Andreoli has a strong minor league track record. He has a .373 career OBP in the minors with 247 stolen bases in eight seasons, and he has started in all three spots. 

[RELATED: Acquiring Drew Pomeranz checks off many boxes for Farhan Zaidi, Giants]

Drafted in the 17th round by the Cubs in 2011, Andreoli has 61 big league at-bats for the Mariners and Orioles, with a .230/.284/.262 slash line. He spent most of last season in Triple-A, where he posted a .397 on-base percentage and stole 19 bases.