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Inbox: How is the bullpen's southpaw situation?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers fans' questions
January 17, 2019

The Giants seem to be intent on trading Will Smith and Tony Watson. Smith was one of their few bright lights last season and Watson was generally solid. If they are dealt, do the Giants have capable lefties to take their place in the bullpen? -- Gerald L., Columbus, Ind.The

The Giants seem to be intent on trading Will Smith and Tony Watson. Smith was one of their few bright lights last season and Watson was generally solid. If they are dealt, do the Giants have capable lefties to take their place in the bullpen?
-- Gerald L., Columbus, Ind.

The Giants currently have seven left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster, so they'll have quite a few options to turn to if they decide to part with Smith and/or Watson this offseason. In addition to the aforementioned duo, the Giants also have switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, Steven Okert, Ty Blach, Josh Osich and Rule 5 Draft pick Travis Bergen in their stable of bullpen arms.
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Venditte has historically had more success from the left side, holding left-handed hitters to a .186 average, while Okert allowed only one run over 7 1/3 innings (1.23 ERA) and struck out eight after receiving a September callup last year. Blach profiles as a potential multi-inning reliever or spot starter, and Bergen will likely be given the opportunity to win a job out of Spring Training.

That depth is one of the reasons the Giants feel they can afford to trade one of their veteran relievers and still field an effective bullpen this year.
"If we keep this group intact, I think it's going to be one of the best groups in the National League," said president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, during the Winter Meetings in December. "If it makes sense for us to move somebody to fill needs on the position player side or in the rotation, I think we're still going to go into next year with a pretty good core."
Have the Giants looked into signing Marwin Gonzalez as a free agent from Houston?
-- Ed M., Crown Point

I'm sure San Francisco has at least checked in on Gonzalez as the club has canvassed the market for free-agent outfielders this offseason. Gonzalez's defensive versatility -- he played seven positions for the Astros last year -- and pop would make him a very good fit for the Giants, though the same could be said for almost every other Major League team. He'll likely have a healthy range of suitors, which could ultimately keep his price tag above San Francisco's comfort level.

Why haven't the Giants signed Nick Hundley? He's everything we could want in a backup catcher, plus he has some power … which the Giants sorely need.
-- Joe G.

I don't think a reunion with Hundley should be ruled out, but it's worth noting that Zaidi has expressed a desire to acquire a backup catcher who can offer more defensive versatility. With the Dodgers, Zaidi had two backstops -- Austin Barnes and James Farmer -- who could play the infield in addition to catching. That push for a more flexible roster has left Hundley's future with the Giants a bit unclear.
Do you expect the Giants to add more pitching help this offseason now that they've re-signed Derek Holland?
-- Vincent Y., San Mateo, Calif.

Even with Holland back in the fold, San Francisco remains interested in improving its rotation depth, so I think there will be some more additions over the next few weeks. One of Zaidi's aims is to ease some of the pressure off younger pitchers like Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez this season, which makes the need for more rotation options key. The Giants won't necessarily need to seek out splashy acquisitions to accomplish this goal. After all, Holland and Rodriguez became two of the Giants' most valuable pitchers after joining the club on Minor League deals last year.

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