The Giants announced their first set of spring training cuts, sending 13 players to Minor League camp.
The most significant cut was left-handed reliever Steven Okert, who appeared in 44 games last season.
But with minor-league options remaining, it was an easy decision, leaving Josh Osich and veteran Derek Holland battling for a spot as a left-handed reliever.
So let’s take a look at the remaining 47 players in Big League camp as the battle for the final 25 roster spots intensifies in the next two-plus weeks.
CATCHERS (2 like to make final 25)
Locks: Buster Posey, Nick Hundley.
Also in camp: Trevor Brown, Hector Sanchez, Justin O’Conner.
This one is pretty clear cut. Posey and Hundley were going to make the big club. The only question is whether the Giants wanted to go with three catches, which seems highly unlikely. Brown, Sanchez and O’Conner will head to minors.
Locks: Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria.
Front-runners: Pablo Sandoval, Kelby Tomlinson.
Also in camp: Andres Blanco, Orlando Calixte, Chase d’Arnaud, Kyle Jensen, Josh Rutledge.
It looks like Sandoval will make the team as a backup corner infielder, which leaves the Giants to look for a middle infield reserve. Tomlinson looks good to fill that role, although Chase d’Arnaud is having a solid spring.
Locks: Hunter Pence, Austin Jackson, Andrew McCutchen.
In the mix: Jarrett Parker, Gregor Blanco, Mac Williamson, Gorkys Hernandez, Steven Duggar.
Also in camp: Chris Shaw, Austin Slater.
This is the roster battle that is most interesting. When the Giants signed Austin Jackson, it was done with the idea that Jackson would be the utility outfielder, filling in at all three outfield positions and getting starts in center against lefties. That means the Giants are looking for a center fielder who can start against righties. Blanco and Duggar seem like front runners for that over the right-handed Hernandez. If the Giants settle on Blanco, sending Duggar to minors, it would come as Hernandez’s spot on the 40-man roster. For the fifth outfield spot, Parker is the front-runner, as he is out of options. But Williamson has been making noise with his revamped swing. But Williamson has one option year left.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Locks: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija.
Front-runners: Chris Stratton, Ty Blach.
In the mix: Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez and Derek Holland.
Beede and Suarez have a couple of weeks to challenge for spot in the rotation. But Stratton and Blach have been solid this spring, while Beede and Suarez have struggled. Holland is looking for a job as a starter or a left-handed reliever.
Locks: Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Derek Law, Hunter Strickland.
In the mix: Cory Gearrin, Josh Osich, Derek Holland.
On the DL: Will Smith.
Also in camp: Manny Parra, Jose Valdez, Roberto Gomez, Julian Fernandez.
With two spots open in the pen, one almost certainly will go to a leftie, as Watson is the lone lefty lock. That means Osich or Holland, at least until Will Smith is set to return. The Giants are targeting a May 1 return date for Smith. Gearrin looks like a good bet to claim other pen spot. The other factor is whether or not the Giants will start with 12 or 13 pitches on the 25-man roster. In past seasons, they have gone with 13 to open the season. But with four days off scheduled in April and no games in Colorado (which can drain a bullpen), and the fact the Giants have some tough outfield decisions, I expect them to go with 12 pitchers. But I’ve been wrong before.