Mike Gerber

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. 

Giants part ways with first player Farhan Zaidi added to roster

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AP

Giants part ways with first player Farhan Zaidi added to roster

SAN FRANCISCO — The first player Farhan Zaidi ever added to the Giants roster is no longer on the roster. 

To clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Drew Pomeranz, the Giants on Wednesday designated Mike Gerber for assignment. Gerber, a 26-year-old outfielder, was claimed from the Detroit Tigers on the first day of the Winter Meetings in December.

Pomeranz signed a one-year deal on Wednesday. 

Gerber looked headed for plenty of spring training time in an outfield that is lacking big-league talent. When the Giants picked him up, they talked up his minor league track record and the fact that Gerber can play all three outfield spots. 

The move leaves the Giants with just five outfielders on their 40-man roster, including one — Rule 5 pick Drew Ferguson — who was added three days after Gerber and outlasted him. None of them have been regular starters in the big leagues, although Steven Duggar is expected to be that guy in center field this season.

Currently, Austin Slater leads Giants outfielders in career plate appearances, and he’s at just 352. 

Zaidi has said repeatedly that he expects to add at least two outfielders to the mix before the season, perhaps guys who fit the short-term mold displayed by the Pomeranz signing. 

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to add at least two outfielders in MLB free agency

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to add at least two outfielders in MLB free agency

LAS VEGAS — The first move of the Farhan Zaidi era was the addition of an outfielder. It’s possible that’ll be the theme of the offseason. 

Zaidi and the Giants entered the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings with just four outfielders on their 40-man roster, none of whom have established themselves as everyday major leaguers. On Monday, Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders to the mix before spring training.

The biggest name out there, of course, is Bryce Harper. Zaidi said the Giants have not met with Harper or his representative, Scott Boras, although he expects to meet with Boras and all the other major agents over the next three days.

There’s no indication that the Giants are seriously in on Harper, though. In fact, it’s the opposite. Larry Baer, the team president and CEO, was flying home Monday night, so the Giants certainly are not a team gearing up for one of the marathon sessions Harper and Boras reportedly have been doing. 

Even if the Giants end up with much less famous options, it’s possible that those players — like Harper — will not find their new home until January. Zaidi assessed the market as “slow moving” and said he’s looking at trade and free agent options.

“Particularly on the free-agent side, I would expect some of those options to go into the next calendar year,” the Giants' new president of baseball operations said. 

Zaidi said adding to the outfield is a "high priority" right now, although he likes the depth provided by the current group of Steven Duggar, Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater. Duggar is the closest to a locked-down job, and Zaidi does view him as an everyday player down the line, but the Giants are strongly considering finding a platoon partner for Duggar, who is coming off shoulder surgery.

“The outfield is a good market to be buyers in,” Zaidi said. “There are always good options in free agency, and especially for us, as a team looking to improve offensively, having openings in the outfield are good spots to try to add offense. We’re going to be thorough. We’re not in a hurry.”

That certainly will be the case. It took a month for Zaidi to make his first roster addition, claiming outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on Monday morning. In discussing Gerber, Zaidi hinted the organization is viewing things differently.

He said the team’s analytics staff looked at Statcast data to determine if Gerber has the proper range, top speed and sprint speed to play center field and right field at AT&T Park. The staff believes Gerber, who had strong minor-league seasons in 2016 and 2017 but took a step back last year, does have the right skill set.

“He can play all three outfield positions,” Zaidi said. “He’s an athletic guy, he’s a good base runner, and overall we’re just looking to improve our organizational depth in that particular area. He’s going to be a nice added piece for us.”