In less than a month, Giants pitchers and catchers will report to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training.
Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa won’t be among the players who will descend on Scottsdale Stadium, and their absences will loom large after a disappointing offseason for Giants fans. Still, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he hopes the focus will eventually shift to the players the Giants did sign, not the ones who got away.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the group we have and what we can do,” Zaidi said last week. “We understand there’s going to be some skepticism because we had a couple of pursuits fall short. But we also did a lot of work, and we think we got better. So we’re excited to be able to start seeing the fruits of that once games begin.”
While they didn’t fill their superstar void, the Giants still committed $193.65 million to seven free agents who they hope will beef up their roster and help them compete for a playoff spot in 2023.
With most of the big pieces in place, here’s an early guess at what the Giants’ 26-man roster could look like come Opening Day:
Catcher (2): Joey Bart, Austin Wynns
Possibility: Blake Sabol
Wynns was outrighted off the 40-man roster last week, but he still seems to be well positioned to serve as Bart’s primary backup during the regular season. Two-time All-Star Gary Sánchez remains available on the free-agent market, but Zaidi said he didn’t anticipate signing any other catchers to Major League deals this winter. Another veteran could still be brought in to compete on a non-roster basis, but the Giants would like to keep a path open for Sabol, a versatile Rule 5 Draft pick who can catch and play the outfield. Sabol, 25, would be a nice lefty complement to Bart, but he has no Major League experience, so he’ll have a lot to prove in big league camp.
First base (1): LaMonte Wade Jr.
Now that Brandon Belt is gone, Wade is expected to get plenty of runway to seize the starting job at first base and reclaim the form he showed during his breakout season in 2021.
Second base (1): Thairo Estrada
Possibilities: Isan Díaz, Brett Wisely
Estrada emerged as one of the few bright spots of the 2022 campaign and has the potential to remain a fixture in the Giants’ infield for the foreseeable future. After parting ways with Belt and Tommy La Stella, the Giants’ infield mix skews right-handed, so they could also give a look to lefty hitters such as Díaz and Wisely, who was acquired from the Rays in exchange for outfield prospect Tristan Peters in November.
Shortstop (1): Brandon Crawford
Crawford, who turns 36 on Saturday, was destined for a position change after the Giants appeared to land Correa, but he found himself back at shortstop once the club nixed its 13-year, $350 million agreement with Correa over medical concerns. The awkward turn of events could serve as extra motivation for Crawford, who will be looking to bounce back from a down season in 2022.
Third base (1): David Villar
The Giants were willing to move on from veteran Evan Longoria to create an everyday opportunity for Villar, who impressed after hitting 36 home runs between Triple-A Sacramento and the Majors last year.
Outfield (5): Michael Conforto, Mitch Haniger, Mike Yastrzemski, Joc Pederson, Austin Slater
Possibilities: Heliot Ramos, Luis González
Zaidi said Conforto and Haniger will likely slot into left and right field, respectively, leaving Yastrzemski and Slater to platoon in center. Pederson rated as one of the worst outfield defenders in the Majors last season, so the Giants are planning to limit his exposure by giving him more starts at designated hitter in 2023.
Utility (2): Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis
Flores and Davis both profile primarily as corner infielders who could draw most of their starts against left-handed pitching this year.
Rotation (6): Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea
Possibilities: Sean Hjelle, Tristan Beck, Kyle Harrison
After signing Stripling and Manaea to identical free-agent deals, the Giants appear to have six starting candidates, though there are some question marks surrounding DeSclafani, who is coming off ankle surgery. If everyone is healthy, the Giants could opt to go with a six-man rotation or consider shifting one of their veteran starters to the bullpen.
Bullpen (7): Camilo Doval, Taylor Rogers, Jakob Junis, Tyler Rogers, John Brebbia, Scott Alexander, Sam Long
Possibilities: Cole Waites, Thomas Szapucki, R.J. Dabovich
The addition of the left-handed Rogers and Luke Jackson should give the Giants more late-inning arms to pair with Doval, though Jackson is expected to be out until early June as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery.