The final months of 2018 brought significant changes to the Giants, and the shifting order figures to expand in 2019, which will mark the team's first full year under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.Zaidi has already begun putting his stamp on the Giants by bringing in a trio
The final months of 2018 brought significant changes to the Giants, and the shifting order figures to expand in 2019, which will mark the team's first full year under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
Zaidi has already begun putting his stamp on the Giants by bringing in a trio of front-office hires -- J.P. Ricciardi, Zack Minasian and Michael Holmes -- and improving the overall depth of the roster with the additions of outfielder Mike Gerber and two Rule 5 Draft picks, left-handed reliever Travis Bergen and outfielder Drew Ferguson.
But plenty of work remains for Zaidi, who is tasked with steering the Giants back toward contention following two consecutive losing seasons. Here's a look at three areas Zaidi will need to upgrade before the Giants head to Scottsdale for Spring Training:
The Giants' biggest positional need remains unchanged, as they're still thin in the outfield, where they're hoping to add experience and offense this offseason. Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Chris Shaw, Gerber and Ferguson comprise the Giants' current crop of outfielders, but Zaidi has said he'd like to make at least two more acquisitions on that front. Former Giant Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley are among the free agents who have come off the board in recent weeks, though superstar Bryce Harper remains available. The Giants have also reportedly inquired about Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar.
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The pitching staff is another area of focus for the Giants, who are interested in bolstering their depth behind ace Madison Bumgarner. Johnny Cueto is expected to miss most, if not all, of next season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear what Jeff Samardzija will be able to contribute following a season marred by right shoulder issues. Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez emerged as two of the biggest surprises of the 2018 campaign, but Zaidi has said he's considering starting the young pitchers in the bullpen or in the Minors to help manage their workloads in 2019.
The Giants could seek to stabilize their rotation by re-signing Derek Holland or pursuing Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, but if they're unable to land an impact arm, they could simply stick with their present group and experiment with deploying their pitchers in more innovative ways, including piggybacking starters and using openers.
3. Backup catcher
With Buster Posey coming off major hip surgery, the Giants' need for a reliable backup catcher will be more pronounced heading into next season. Rookie Aramis Garcia impressed after debuting with the Giants in August, but he has only 19 games of Major League experience under his belt. A reunion with Nick Hundley could make sense, though Zaidi has expressed a preference for backup catchers who can offer more defensive versatility.
Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.