San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he will have some tough decisions regarding the opening day roster.
Bochy’s decision became slightly easier Friday, when the Giants traded infielder Conor Gillaspie to the White Sox. The Giants received pitcher Jeff Soptic, a 21-year-old hard thrower who has battled with his control.
Gillaspie, a 2008 sandwich pick (37th overall), was one of five players on the Giants’ 40-man roster who were out of options, meaning he could not be sent to minors this season without first being sent through waivers.
Gillaspie, who was part of the Giants’ draft class that included Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, hit .287 with 37 HRs in five minor-league seasons in the Giants’ system. Gillaspie got a call-up last season when Pablo Sandoval went on the DL. Gillaspie went 3 for 20 (.150) in six games before being sent back to Fresno.
What worked against Gillaspie was that he was not versatile defensively. He was a third baseman, and was not going to pass Sandoval and Joaquin Arias on the depth chart. Even Marco Scutaro is an option at third base. Gillaspie said he was thankful for the trade and hoped to have a better chance making the White Sox roster.
The move leaves the Giants with four players who are out of options: outfielder Gregor Blanco, infielder Arias, reliever Jose Mijares and pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. Blanco, Arias and Mijares are practically guaranteed of making the 25-man roster.
That leaves Petit, which will leave the Giants with an interesting decision.
One thing the Giants are lacking are big-league ready starting pitchers beyond their starting five of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong.
Last season, all five made at least 31 starters, making the Giants the only team to have five pitchers make at least 30 starts. Only twice did the Giants need an additional starter, when a doubleheader in May in New York forced the Giants to call up Eric Hacker to make a spot start against the Padres, and in September when Petit made a start after the Giants’ clinched the division title and Bochy rested his starters.
Hacker was designated for assignment in September and signed to play in Korea this winter.
Of the seven pitchers who made at least seven starters for Triple-A Fresno last season, only two are in camp this spring — Petit and Boof Bonser.
Petit went 7-7 with 3.46 ERA in a team-high 28 starts for Fresno.
If the Giants keep Petit, it will need to be as a long reliever. It would also mean the Giants would likely release non-roster invitees like Ramon Ramirez, Chad Gaudin and Scott Proctor. Or it could mean George Kontos, who pitched well for the Giants after his call-up last season, would be sent to Fresno, for the sole reason that he CAN be sent to Fresno.
If they lose Petit to trade or waivers, the top option to make a spot start could be Gaudin. Gaudin made 34 starts for the A’s in 2007, but he has not started a game since making 25 starts in 2009 for the Padres and Yankees. Chris Heston, who had a solid season for Double-A Richmond, could be first in line to get a call from Fresno.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and the MLB Network said that no team since the adoption of the five-man rotation in the early 1970s has ever had five pitchers make at least 30 starts in consecutive seasons.