Zack Cozart

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

For the second week in a row, the Giants claimed a right-hander from the Los Angeles Angels and made room on the roster by releasing another former Angel. 

This time, it was 22-year-old Luis Madero joining the organization on a waiver claim, with fellow right-hander Jake Jewell getting designated for assignment. Jewell had been claimed last Monday and the Giants cleared a spot that day by designating Zack Cozart. 

Madero, who made it to Double-A last season, seems to bring a bit more upside to an organization looking to hit on underrated prospects. He was ranked 11th in the Angels' system at the time of the waiver claim, according to MLB Pipeline. Madero had been DFA'd last week.

Madero was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Diamondbacks and has spent the last two seasons in A-ball and Double-A with the Angels. He made 24 appearances last season -- 22 of which were starts -- and posted a 5.03 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. 

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According to MLB Pipeline, Madero has a low 90s sinker and a good slider. That could be a solid combination out of the bullpen, although the Giants also are working to stockpile starting pitching depth. They figure to have a pretty good handle of what Madero is capable of, as new pitching coach Andrew Bailey came to the Giants after two years on staff with the Angels. 

Giants DFA December addition Zack Cozart to add pitcher Jake Jewell

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AP

Giants DFA December addition Zack Cozart to add pitcher Jake Jewell

When the Giants traded for Zack Cozart at the Winter Meetings, it didn't seem all that likely that he would make it to Opening Day. It turns out Cozart won't even be at spring training.

The Giants DFA'd the shortstop Monday to clear a roster spot for right-handed pitcher Jake Jewell, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. The Giants traded for Cozart and the remaining $12 million or so on his deal in order to acquire Angels prospect Will Wilson, the 15th overall pick in last summer's draft and someone the Giants considered taking at No. 10 overall. 

Jewell, 26, has made 21 relief appearances for the Angels the last two seasons, posting a 6.99 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He has a 4.93 ERA in his minor league career, primarily as a reliever. The Giants figure to have an open competition for bullpen spots in spring training. 

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Cozart has struggled with injuries since signing a big three-year deal with the Angels and hit just .124 in 38 games last season. After acquiring Cozart, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said there was uncertainty about whether he would be ready for the season. The Giants have enough depth at shortstop, with Mauricio Dubon and Donovan Solano behind Brandon Crawford. 

That trade for Cozart wasn't about the big league roster, it was about Wilson. The 21-year-old shortstop now is at the back end of their top 10 prospect list, per some outlets. 

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. 

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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.

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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.