Farhan Zaidi

Giants acquire Connor Joe, who has shot at making Opening Day roster

Giants acquire Connor Joe, who has shot at making Opening Day roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants swapped out a Rule 5 pick who wasn't going to make the team for one who now very well might. 

Drew Ferguson, an outfielder picked up from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft, was designated for assignment Thursday to clear a roster spot for Connor Joe, a utility man who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds. Joe is under the same restrictions, and given that the Giants picked him up one week from Opening Day, there seems a good chance that Farhan Zaidi will try to tuck the former Dodgers prospect onto the roster. 

Joe, 26, has moved all over throughout his minor league career, primarily playing first base, third and the outfield. As a right-handed bat with a .363 career OBP in the minors, he fits a lot of what the Giants are looking for on their bench. That also could lead to some interesting decisions next week. 

The Giants already were trying to decide how to squeeze Yangervis Solarte, Alen Hanson and Pablo Sandoval on the roster, with the latter two looking like tough calls. They also could try to put Joe in the outfield mix, perhaps at the expense of a player like Mac Williamson or Cameron Maybin. 
Joe had a .935 OPS with 17 homers in Double-A and Triple-A for the Dodgers organization last season. He was the sixth player selected in the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, and hit .275 this spring for the Reds. 

[RELATED: Five reasons to be optimistic about the 2019 Giants]

The Giants had hoped Ferguson would fill these holes, but he had a poor spring and was not in position to make the club. The Giants would have had to offer him back to the Astros next week, with very little hope of keeping him in their system. 

To acquire Joe, the Giants traded minor league right-hander Jordan Johnson and cash considerations to the Reds. Johnson had a 4.37 ERA in 86 minor league appearances for the Giants. 

Farhan Zaidi believes Giants bullpen can be one of baseball's best

Farhan Zaidi believes Giants bullpen can be one of baseball's best

SAN FRANCISCO -- The belief throughout much of the offseason was that Farhan Zaidi would trade his best relievers in order to get pieces that could help the Giants win in future years. Recently, Zaidi put his own twist on that plan when asked if he could still swing deals centered around bullpen arms. 

"It definitely is a position of depth for us," he said. "We'll kind of continue to listen because I think it's a relative position of depth, but I think for us to be successful with the composition of this club, we'll have to have one of the best bullpens in baseball."

The Giants are not on anybody's list of contenders, and they haven't significantly upgraded a club that's lost 187 games the past two seasons. But that also doesn't mean they're raising the white flag in March, especially not Bruce Bochy's last one with the club, and Zaidi believes the bullpen can help keep this team in the race. 

There have been plenty of proclamations this spring that raised eyebrows, but it really is reasonable for the Giants to be right near the top of the National League when it comes to this one position group. 

A year ago, Giants relievers ranked sixth in the NL with a 3.79 ERA, and all of the main contributors are back. They'll get Will Smith from the start of the year this time, Reyes Moronta and Ray Black both could grab bigger roles, and Mark Melancon feels fully healthy for the first time since signing a massive four-year deal. 

The biggest gains could come in another area, though. 

Between a resurgent Tyler Beede, prospects like Shaun Anderson and Melvin Adon, Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen, and starters like Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach -- who likely all be left on the outside of the rotation race -- the Giants simply have better young options than they've had in recent years. 

The Giants also are deeper when it comes to veterans, with guys like Pat Venditte, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent ready to take some of the innings that went to Pierce Johnson (5.56 ERA in 43 2/3 innings) and Josh Osich (8.25 ERA in 12 innings last April). 

[RELATED: Speedy Duggar sets lofty goal for stolen bases in 2019]

The Giants had a solid bullpen last year. This year it's much deeper, and should be better. Zaidi is happy with the group he'll start the season with, but he'll be ready to pick up calls when other teams need to fill a hole. 

"I think we have that group in-house (to be one of the best bullpens), and we don't necessarily want to compromise that," he said. "But it's certainly a group that we have enough depth that we could trade from it and still be in that position."

Farhan Zaidi explains how Giants can be successful in 2019 season

Farhan Zaidi explains how Giants can be successful in 2019 season

It's March, which means we have reached the month that possesses Opening Day and we are getting a closer look in spring training at what hopes to shape the rosters of the 2019 teams.

When it comes to the Giants, there are still some questions that remain unanswered as to who will fill out the roster, but that's the recurring theme with most clubs. And for newly hired president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, he's not only ready for the new season, but he's revealing what will make the upcoming year a prosperous one.

"From our standpoint, for us to have a successful 2019 season, we're going to need contributions from young players that our fans might not be familiar with right now," Zaidi said in an interview during Friday night's A's-Giants spring training broadcast. "And our responsibility is to kind of figure that out over the course of this spring training and once those guys get to the minor leagues -- hopefully we're getting impacted by a lot of those players once we get underway."

Zaidi also added that the lack of depth the Giants had in the previous season hurt the team when the inevitable injuries occurred. That's an issue he hopes to tackle before a minute problem becomes an uncontrollable one.

A graphic of the acquisitions Zaidi and the Giants have made this offseason appeared on the screen during the interview, which went to show how much work has gone into the offseason. Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper mentioned that with all the moves that were made, that meant a lot of decisions were going to be made as well.

[RELATED: What's 'Plan B' for Giants' outfield?]

"I think those guys all really have a chance to help us," said Zaidi. 

Zaidi has an eye for talent that can stretch beyond one position, something it appears he may not be scared to utilize. And he plans on taking advantage of his time in Arizona by checking out some minor league games to see what the organization has to work with -- something he's really looking forward to.