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Predicting Giants' 2020 Opening Day roster

@mi_guardado
November 5, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants churned through a franchise-record 64 players in 2019, and the roster turnover figures to continue this offseason as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looks to improve the club ahead of the '20 season. Zaidi will have one extra spot to work with next year,

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants churned through a franchise-record 64 players in 2019, and the roster turnover figures to continue this offseason as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looks to improve the club ahead of the '20 season.

Zaidi will have one extra spot to work with next year, as rosters are set to expand from 25 to 26 players. It’s probably a fruitless exercise to attempt to predict who will be with the Giants when they face the Dodgers in their regular-season opener on March 26, but we’ll give it a try anyway.

Here’s a way-too-early look at who might be on the Giants’ Opening Day roster next season:

Catcher
Locks: Buster Posey
Possibilities: Aramis Garcia, free agent or trade

Posey endured the worst offensive season of his career and found himself in a timeshare with backup Stephen Vogt in 2019, but he remains under contract for two more seasons and should be back behind the plate on Opening Day. Posey and Garcia are the only catchers on the Giants’ current 40-man roster, so they’ll likely look to make a couple of external additions before Spring Training. Vogt seemed like a perfect fit for San Francisco, but he is a free agent and will likely draw interest from several other teams this offseason. With top prospect Joey Bart on the way, the Giants could be content to search for more of a stopgap backup option.

First base
Locks: Brandon Belt
Possibilities: Austin Slater, Zach Green, free agent or trade

Belt is coming off a down year, but he was still one of the most productive members of the Giants’ veteran core, and he is projected to remain the starting first baseman in 2020. San Francisco will need another backup corner infielder if Pablo Sandoval departs via free agency, though they have some internal options in Slater and Green.

Second base
Locks: Mauricio Dubón
Possibilities: Donovan Solano, Cristhian Adames, free agent or trade

Dubón, the Giants’ prized Trade Deadline acquisition from the Brewers, showed enough promise in his first look with the club that he will likely enter Spring Training as the favorite to win a starting job at second base. Solano did a nice job as the Giants’ backup middle infielder in 2019, but he lost playing time to Dubón over the final month of the season and could be in line for another reserve role next year.

Shortstop
Locks: Brandon Crawford
Possibilities: Dubón, Solano, Abiatal Avelino, free agent or trade

Like many of the Giants’ legacy players, Crawford regressed offensively in 2019, creating questions about his viability as a starting option as he heads into the final two seasons of his contract. If he continues to struggle, Crawford could find himself losing at-bats to the likes of Dubón and Solano next season.

Third base
Locks: Evan Longoria
Possibilities: Green, Adames, free agent or trade

After a lackluster first season with the Giants, Longoria proved to be solidly above-average in 2019, delivering big hits, power and steady defense at third base. He’ll likely remain the incumbent for the near future, as he is signed through '22.

Outfield
Locks: Kevin Pillar, Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar
Possibilities: Alex Dickerson, Jaylin Davis, Chris Shaw, Slater, free agent or trade

If Dickerson stays healthy, he should join Pillar, Yastrzemski and Duggar in the locks category, but he has a lengthy injury history, so it remains to be seen how his body will hold up next year. There are some questions regarding Yastrzemski’s ability to sustain the success he enjoyed in 2019 and Duggar’s durability, so the Giants could also look to fortify this group this offseason.

Starting pitchers
Locks: Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija
Possibilities: Logan Webb, Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodríguez, Shaun Anderson, free agent or trade

Cueto and Samardzija will be back, but Madison Bumgarner is a free agent and will leave a sizable hole at the top of the rotation if he signs elsewhere this offseason. Starting pitching will be a priority for the Giants this offseason, so if they miss out on Bumgarner, they will likely target a couple of other free agents and try to round out their rotation with some of their younger internal options.

Relievers
Locks: Tony Watson, Trevor Gott, Sam Coonrod, Tyler Rogers, Jandel Gustave
Possibilities: Anderson, Andrew Suárez, Wandy Peralta, Conner Menez, Melvin Adon, free agent or trade

Closer Will Smith was the only member of the Giants’ 2019 Opening Day bullpen still to be on the active roster at the end of the season, a sign of the tremendous turnover the relief corps endured as a result of trades and injuries. Smith is a free agent, so San Francisco will likely feature a markedly different bullpen next year. Several promising arms emerged in September, but Zaidi is likely to continue to scour the relief market for more depth pieces this offseason. Good news, though: Watson exercised his player option for '20, so he'll be back in the orange and black.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.