Tyson Ross

Giants add three more players to big league camp as non-roster invitees

Giants add three more players to big league camp as non-roster invitees

The Giants invited three more veterans to spring training as non-roster invitees, and did so in areas where they're expected to have heated position battles. 

Left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins, right-handed starter Tyson Ross and catcher Rob Brantly all will be in camp next month, giving the Giants 21 non-roster players. The additions of Ross and Blevins had previously been reported

Blevins, in particular, might find himself in a pretty good spot as pitchers and catchers get going Feb. 12. The former A's reliever has had a solid 13-year career and joins a team that needs left-handed relief depth after Will Smith departed in free agency.

The Giants brought Tony Watson back, but it's a young group behind him, with Andrew Suarez and Wandy Peralta currently standing as the next two left-handed relief options on the roster. Conner Menez might get a look in the bullpen and Tyler Anderson and Drew Smyly could be options if they're not in the rotation. 

Blevins, 36, had a 3.90 ERA and averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings for the Atlanta Braves last season. He previously pitched for the New York Mets, so manager Gabe Kapler has a history facing him when Kapler managed the Philadelphia Phillies.

[RELATED: Bay Area hoping SF-KC championship goes their way again]

Ross, a Bay Area native, adds more rotation depth to a group that already includes Smyly, Anderson and Kevin Gausman behind Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. Tyler Beede and Logan Webb also will be fighting to keep the spots they earned last summer. Ross made just seven starts for the Tigers last year before getting shut down with an elbow injury. 

Brantly has scattered big league time with the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox and got one at-bat for Kapler's Phillies last year. The 30-year-old spent most of last season in Triple-A, batting .314 with six homers. He joins incumbent Aramis Garcia and fellow newcomers Tyler Heineman and Chad Tromp in the race to back up Buster Posey. 

Examining Giants' current position battles with 2020 season approaching

Examining Giants' current position battles with 2020 season approaching

Major League Baseball announced official 2020 game times on Wednesday and there were no surprises. There are a bunch of games that start around 7 p.m. and a few that start around 1 p.m., and 162 of them in all. You know the drill. 

But we do officially officially know that the Giants will start Gabe Kapler's first season at 1:10 p.m. on March 26 at Dodger Stadium. They'll do so with a new wrinkle -- a 26th player on the roster -- and that'll slightly change the math as they try to put the Opening Day roster together all spring. 

In Farhan Zaidi's first year, a handful of veterans walked into the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse after pitchers and catchers had already reported. Guys like Yangervis Solarte, Gerardo Parra and Nick Vincent stuck on the roster, along with many later additions like Connor Joe, Michael Reed and Erik Kratz. 

So, it's hard to predict an Opening Day roster on January 8, but let's take a look at the roster battles anyway ... 

CATCHER

On the 40-man roster: Buster Posey, Aramis Garcia
Non-roster invitees: Joey Bart, Tyler Heineman, Chad Tromp

A year ago, Kratz and Tom Murphy were acquired at the end of camp and Stephen Vogt ended up getting the backup job after starting the season in Triple-A, but the Giants really do seem committed to giving Garcia more of a shot this time around. 

"He's putting in a lot of work this offseason and he's a guy we would like to see get an opportunity as well," Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. "I guess we're not closed off to (adding) but we have some good young catching depth and at some point we want to create opportunities for these guys."

There's a reason for the change. The Giants don't want to block Bart, and Garcia -- or perhaps Heineman or Tromp -- is more than capable of backing up Posey in the meantime. 

[RELATED: Minor league catcher Heineman signs with Giants]

INFIELD

On the 40-man: Abiatal Avelino, Brandon Belt, Zack Cozart, Brandon Crawford, Mauricio Dubon, Evan Longoria, Donovan Solano, Kean Wong
Non-roster invitees: Cristhian Adames, Zach Green, Drew Robinson

The Giants are pretty well set here, although there will be a lot of pressure on the veterans -- particularly Crawford -- to perform early and keep Zaidi from making further changes. Belt, Dubon, Crawford and Longoria are the current starters, with Solano showing last year that he's a quality backup. 

There's some question about whether Cozart will be healthy in time, but if he is, the Giants paid a hefty sum to acquire him and they might as well see if he can find his 2017 form. Wong, a left-handed hitter who posted solid on-base numbers in the minors, is a wild card. The Giants claimed him early in the offseason and held on, and if the 24-year-old can play an adequate third base, he could get Pablo Sandoval's old job. 

OUTFIELD

On the 40-man: Jaylin Davis, Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, Joe McCarthy, Chris Shaw, Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski
Non-roster invitees: Joey Rickard, Jamie Westbrook

What's the over-under on dudes who play outfield for the Giants this season? 15? 20? They still could add a Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna and solidify a corner spot, but if they don't, most of this season will be about finding out what they have in the younger outfielders. 

Davis, Duggar, McCarthy, Shaw and Slater all have the physical tools to breakthrough, and the Giants have gone all-in on a developmental coaching staff. The hope is that they find a second Yaz. The original should start the season in center field and he knows he has to prove last year wasn't a fluke. Alex Dickerson might be the cleanup hitter when healthy, but the Giants want to put him in a platoon and protect his back by limiting playing time. Dubon could also be an option in the outfield. 

The Giants learned a lesson about optics last year when Joe and Reed joined late and started on Opening Day, so perhaps there will be a bit more stability this spring, but they're still going to give a look to any player who might be a solution, and there will again be plenty of churn in the outfield. 

ROTATION

On the 40-man: Tyler Anderson, Tyler Beede, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Conner Menez, Trevor Oaks, Dereck Rodriguez, Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Suarez, Logan Webb

There's no reason to even list the non-roster guys right now, because that's 10 names already without even getting to Tyson Ross, who will be with the Giants on a minor league deal and could leapfrog most of that group. 

Cueto, Samardzija and Gausman are locked in and Beede heads to camp with a firm hold on a job. Webb had a similar 2019 season -- showing flashes of dominance but also inconsistency -- but he's in a different boat than Beede because he'll be on an innings limit. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Webb start the season in Triple-A where the Giants can monitor his workload. 

Anderson is still rehabbing but he'll get his chance if he's healthy. Some of the younger guys have a much clearer path to a bullpen spot. 

BULLPEN

On the 40-man: Melvin Adon, Shaun Anderson, Sam Coonrod, Enderson Franco, Trevor Gott, Jandel Gustave, Dany Jimenez, Reyes Moronta (out until at least July), Wandy Peralta, Tyler Rogers, Sam Selman, Burch Smith, Tony Watson
Non-roster invitees: The Giants invited 10 pitchers to camp and most of them are relievers

If the season started today, Shaun Anderson would probably be the closer and Tony Watson would be his setup man, or perhaps the Giants would flip that. After that ... 

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This is the group where it's truly impossible to predict what will happen.

Gott will be on the team if his UCL sprain is fully recovered and Jimenez has a leg up as a Rule 5 pick, but the rest of these guys truly will be fighting for jobs in February and March. When looking at the bullpen, perhaps it's best to remember what Zaidi said about young starters Rodriguez and Suarez in his first offseason. Both had solid rookie seasons, but Zaidi felt the team would be better off if there was enough depth that they started 2019 in Sacramento, and that's what happened.

[RELATED: Giants announce final two additions to Kapler's staff]

Guys like Coonrod and Rogers should feel good about what they did as rookies, but it wouldn't be a shock to see nearly all of the younger relievers (with options) start back in Triple-A as the Giants try to strike gold with veterans, some of whom haven't been signed yet. 

Relievers are the most volatile players in the game. Expect the Giants to take fliers on quite a few of them, hoping to stumble upon the next Pomeranz-for-Dubon trade. 

MLB rumors: Giants sign pitcher Tyson Ross to minor-league contract

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USATSI

MLB rumors: Giants sign pitcher Tyson Ross to minor-league contract

The Giants have been relatively quiet so far this offseason, but perhaps president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is starting to put his plan in place. 

On Friday, the Giants signed right-handed pitcher Tyson Ross to a minor-league contract, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported.

Ross, 32, is coming off a season in which he started only seven games for the Detroit Tigers, going 1-5 with a 6.11 ERA before missing the rest of the season due to injury.

The Cal product and Berkeley native has a history in the NL West, though. In four-plus seasons with the San Diego Padres, Ross went 32-44 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. In six career starts at Oracle Park, Ross is 1-3 with 3.38 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 38 strikeouts. 

[RELATED: Giants' Shaw excited to play for Kapler]

The Giants currently have a right-handed heavy rotation, with Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Logan Webb, Tyler Beede and Kevin Gausman. Shaun Anderson and Dereck Rodriguez also are options, although Anderson likely is headed to the bullpen. Webb also is on an innings limit, so the addition of Ross could give the Giants some much-needed veteran rotation insurance, provided he is healthy.

After losing Madison Bumgarner to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants have a large hole in their rotation. Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris undoubtedly would like to add a left-hander to the mix. Guys like Alex Wood and Drew Smyly still are available, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Zaidi add another arm or two to the mix for competition come spring.