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San Francisco Giants Might have an Unexpected Roster Crunch

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 28: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the top of the ninth inning during game one of a doubleheader at AT&T Park on April 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Sandoval got the Dodgers out 1-2-3 in the inning. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 28: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the top of the ninth inning during game one of a doubleheader at AT&T Park on April 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Sandoval got the Dodgers out 1-2-3 in the inning. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Giants might have an expected roster crunch with Pablo Sandoval and Alen Hanson. This could be an area to watch as the season gets underway. 

Both San Francisco Giants infielders, Sandoval and Hanson, are switch-hitters. However, they are both better hitters from the left side. Sandoval posted a .280/.342/.474 slash line from the left side compared to a .274/.297/.484 slash line from Hanson in 2018. Neither player has an advantage from the right side.

Sandoval and Hanson are on league-minimum salaries. Similarly, they cannot be optioned AAA without being exposed to waivers. So, they lack the type of roster flexibility Farhan Zaidi covets.

Hanson has the edge in terms of positional versatility. He spent time at second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and right field in 2018. He is not above-average at any of these positions, but he can fill-in when needed.

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Sandoval spent time at second base, third base, and first base. Of course, he was also the greatest relief pitcher from 2018. Additionally, he is the emergency catcher. Evidently, Sandoval has an outfielder glove too. Giants fans deserve to see Sandoval shagging fly balls in center field.

There are a lot of similarities between Sandoval and Hanson. The biggest difference might be foot speed and power. Hanson has shown that he can really change the game with his speed.

Sandoval has more over-the-fence power, which is the type of power that has eluded the Giants for years. Hanson has power, but his is more of the gap-to-gap variety.

Both Sandoval and Hanson will serve as utility infielders. The primary infield contingent consist of Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Buster Posey, and Evan Longoria. Belt, Crawford, and Panik are all left-handed hitters.

Giving days off to any one of those three makes sense if the Giants are facing a tough left-handed pitcher. However, starting Sandoval or Hanson in place of any of the three against left-handed pitchers does not help the lineup.

The Giants may need to add a right-handed hitting, utility infielder. This is especially true now that Zaidi is on board, and has a reputation for favoring platoons.

The choice between Sandoval and Hanson is where the roster crunch comes in to play. The Giants can only carry two or three utility players. This does not include the backup catcher.

The other utility infielders on the 40-man roster include Abiatal Avelino and Breyvic Valera. Both are very inexperienced, and only Valera has shown an ability to handle left-handed pitching.

It is likely that the Giants will bring in more infielders to create competition for both Sandoval and Hanson. They may even bring in an infielder on a major league deal.

Next.

However, Sandoval and Hanson share a lot of similarities in terms of skill set and roster flexibility. They also do not hit left-handed pitchers well, and this is an area where the Giants need to improve.

The presence of both on the roster is not necessarily a bad thing. Though, the similarities between the two may limit Bruce Bochy‘s player usage, and this could create a roster crunch at some point.

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