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SF Giants: Get to know their 26-man Opening Day roster

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants looks on during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 24, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants looks on during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 24, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Brandon Crawford
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 04: Brandon Crawford #35 of the SF Giants against the Chicago White Sox during a preseason game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 04, 2021, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Check out who will be joining Crawford on the SF Giants Opening Day roster. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The SF Giants Opening Day roster is finally set. The front-office reassigned the remaining members of their spring training roster to minor-league camp. Now, with only 26 healthy players on the big-league roster, fans know who should be available for manager Gabe Kapler at the start of the regular season. Let’s go position-by-position to see who ultimately made the cut.

SF Giants Opening Day Roster:
Catchers

MLB Roster: Buster Posey, Curt Casali

Easily the worst position on the Giants’ roster last season, the organization has a new outlook behind the plate. Chadwick Tromp and Joey Bart, their primary backstops last year, remain available in the minor leagues, but franchise cornerstone Buster Posey returns from his COVID-19 opt-out and will be joined by veteran Curt Casali. Posey is an immense upgrade defensively and should still be an improvement over the abysmal offensive production they got from the catcher position last season. If the wear and tear of the position continues limiting Posey though, Casali is a proven big-league hitter with a solid .230/.316/.413 career triple-slash.

SF Giants Opening Day Roster:
Infielders

MLB Roster: Brandon Belt, Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf, Tommy La Stella, Donovan Solano, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria

The Giants added Tommy La Stella on a three-year deal this offseason to provide a left-handed platoon option around the infield, but aside from him, the entire infield from 2020 returns. There have been many questions about first baseman Brandon Belt‘s health, but he has made enough progress to start the year on the active roster.

All offseason, the Giants have had a logjam of options at first and second base. Beyond Belt and La Stella, Wilmer Flores, Donovan Solano, and Darin Ruf are all best on the right side of the infield. Instead of trading from depth though, the Giants have retained all those players. It will be hard to find at-bats for everyone, but should also give Kapler fantastic pinch-hitting and double-switch options late in close games.

On the other side of the infield, La Stella gives Evan Longoria his first legitimate backup/platoon option at third base since he’s been in San Francisco. However, veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford may be the only average or better defender at short. Mauricio Dubón was developed as a shortstop but seems slated for a heavy workload in center field. Solano and Flores have experience there, but Flores has become unplayable there in recent years. Solano is the wild card. Before last season, he was a glove-first player capable of handling short or second. Then, last season, his defense fell apart.

SF Giants Opening Day Roster:
Outfielders

MLB Roster: Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubón, Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson

Like shortstop, the Giants have limited options behind Dubón in center. The coaching staff has trusted Mike Yastrzemski in center more than most around baseball would. Late in the preseason, Austin Slater did begin seeing more extended playing time in center. Perhaps his comfort at the position made it easier for the front-office to option players that could have offered more defensive versatility, like LaMonte Wade Jr and Steven Duggar.

If Slater and Yastrzemski see time in center, the outfield could be an elite offensive group. Ruf has struggled in left field, but the Giants could get aggressive against southpaws, playing Longoria, Dubón, Solano, and Flores across the infield with Ruf, Slater, and Yastrzemski in the outfield while playing Longoria, Crawford, La Stella, and Belt in the infield against righties with Dickerson, Dubón, Yastrzemski. The Giants led the league in errors this preseason, and that could carry over to the regular season. Still, this roster has clear benefits. The Giants might have more lineup flexibility than any other team in the National League.

SF Giants Opening Day Roster:
Starting Rotation

MLB Roster: Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Aaron Sanchez
Injured List: Alex Wood

Technically, there are 27 players still on the active roster. However, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi confirmed that Alex Wood will begin the season on the injured list. Without one of their offseason additions, star of spring training, Logan Webb returns to the team’s rotation along with Kevin Gausman and Johnny Cueto. Free-agent signings Anthony DeSclafani and Aaron Sanchez will lock down the fourth and fifth starter positions.

Assuming Webb continues succeeding, Sanchez could be pushed to the pen upon Wood’s return. Alternatively, both have long injury histories and previous success in the bullpen. It’s not inconceivable that the Giants would pair them together to throw 2-4 innings every fifth day.

SF Giants Opening Day Roster:
Bullpen

MLB Roster: Wandy Peralta, Reyes Moronta, Caleb Baragar, Jarlin Garcia, Matt Wisler, Jose Alvarez, Tyler Rogers, Jake McGee

This is easily where the most uncertainty has been all spring. The Giants signed a bevy of veteran relievers to major and minor-league contracts this offseason. Reliever Dominic Leone performed in spring training like he deserved a spot on the Opening Day roster, while even players like Jimmie Sherfy looked like they could sneak into the final bullpen. Instead, Leone, Sherfy, and Nick Tropeano (another solid spring performer) were reassigned to minor-league camp.

While the starting rotation will have no southpaws to start the season, five of the roster’s eight relievers are left-handed throwers. Kapler aggressively pursued platoon advantages in 2020. The Giants will have the lefties to do that to start the season, but it would seem like a risky strategy with only three righties. With one of those righties, Reyes Moronta, coming off shoulder surgery, it becomes even harder to envision the same extreme approach.

SF Giants: Leone Deserves Opening Day Roster Spot. Next

After a long wait, regular season baseball is nearly back. On April 1st, the SF Giants will face off against the Seattle Mariners T-Mobile Park. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 pm Pacific Standard Time.

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