Down to Final 31 (30 actually) as Giants send more players down to minors

Giants Yankees Baseball

San Francisco Giants’ Mac Williamson connects for an RBI-base hit against the New York Yankees during the twelfth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 23, 2016, in New York. Giants’ Trevor Brown scored on the play. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The San Francisco Giants shaved down their spring training roster to 31 players, six away from the final cut of 25 for Opening Day, which now looms just 10 days away.

With one of the 31 players being reliever Will Smith, who will open the season on the disabled list, the number of players the Giants will actually have to cut is five.

The players optioned to the minors on Monday were pitchers Tyler Beede, Derek Law, Roberto Gomez and outfielders Austin Slater and Mac Williamson.

Players reassigned to minor-league camp were pitchers  Andrew Suarez, Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, catchers Justin O’Conner, Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez, infielders Orlando Calixte, Chase d’Arnaud, and Kyle Jensen and outfielder Chris Shaw.

That leaves the following players still in camp. And we’ve included * next to players who are a lock to make the final 25 (16 players), plus other players’ roster status.

LHP Ty Blach

LHP Madison Bumgarner*

RHP Johnny Cueto*

RHP Sam Dyson*

RHP Julian Fernandez (Rule 5 player)

RHP Cory Gearrin  (out of options)

RHP Mark Melancon*

LHP Josh Osich

RHP Jeff Samardzija*

LHP Will Smith (DL)

RHP Chris Stratton

RHP Hunter Strickland (out of options)

LHP Tony Watson*

LHP Derek Holland (not on 40-man)

C Buster Posey*

C Nick Hundley*

IF Brandon Belt*

IF Brandon Crawford*

IF Evan Longoria*

IF Joe Panik*

IF Pablo Sandoval*

IF Kelby Tomlinson

IF Josh Rutledge (not on 40-man)

IF Andres Blanco (not on 40-man)

OF Gorkys Hernandez (out of options)

OF Austin Jackson*

OF Andrew McCutchen*

OF Jarrett Parker (out of options)

OF Hunter Pence*

OF Gregor Blanco (not on 40-man)

OF Steven Duggar (not on 40-man)

 

Here are the key areas where the Giants need to make a decision soon.

STARTING PITCHERS: There are two spots in the rotation open, and they will be filled by Stratton, Blach or Holland. It’s possible that if the loser in this battle will open the season in the pen. In fact, with the Giants not needing a No. 5 starter until April 10, it’s possible two could open the season in the pen.

FINAL BULLPEN SPOT: With Smith headed to the DL, the Giants are left with 13 pitchers in camp. In past seasons the Giants have opened the campaign with 13 pitchers on the roster. But again, given the early days off in the schedule and other tough decisions in the roster elsewhere, it seems likely that the Giants would go with 12. So loses out? Lefty Josh Osich has options left, but he’s been lights-out this spring. So it seems unlikely he gets sent to Sacramento. Has Holland shown the Giants enough to keep him, either in the pen or as a lefty reliever? Are the Giants still intrigued with flame-thrower Jose Fernandez? Fernandez has been lit up this spring (11 earned runs in 5.1 innings), but as a Rule 5 player, he would need to be sent back to Colorado if he doesn’t make the Opening Day 25.

INFIELDERS: Monday’s moves make it a pretty good bet that Kelby Tomlinson has made the club. While non-roster players Andres Blanco and Jeff Rutledge remain in camp, none has handled shortstop duties as much as Tomlinson this spring.

OUTFIELDERS: There are two jobs open and four in contention: Gorkys Hernandez, Gregor Blanco, Steven Duggar and Jarrett Parker. The deal Blanco signed in January is a minor-league one, so he could in theory be sent to Sacramento. So can Duggar. Hernandez and Parker are out of options, so they would need to clear waivers before heading to Sacramento. Duggar has played a stellar center field this spring while his bat has cooled after a hot start (he’s hitting .270). Hernandez’s bat has picked up this spring. He’s hitting .278. But the chances of the 30-year-old clearing waivers are actually fairly decent. The same cannot be said for Parker, whose power potential would be intriguing to other clubs. He’s struggled this spring, hitting .222 with 20 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. Blanco has outshined others at the plate, hitting .348 with .429 OBP.

Our call

Barring injuries in the final, here’s how we see things shaking out.

The Giants send Fernandez back to Colorado; Holland makes Final 25, filling Hernandez’s spot on the 40-man. Stratton and Holland fill out back end of rotation, Blach goes to pen, much like he did last year.

Tomlinson makes the club over Rutledge and Andres Blanco.

The Giants keep Blanco and Parker; Duggar is sent to Sacramento, and Gorkys goes through waivers.

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