The SF Giants have been bracing for a roster crunch for nearly two months now, but it has not come yet. However, the crunch appears to be around the corner with the return of Evan Longoria (shoulder), Brandon Belt (knee), and Tommy La Stella (hamstring).
SF Giants: Roster crunch coming with the return of three key veterans
To make this work, the Giants will need to do some roster gymnastics, but with how late it is in the season, there might be a roster cut or two. In the case of both Longoria and La Stella, they will need to be added back to the 40-man roster and the 26-man roster given that they are on the 60-day injured list.
This is where it gets tricky. The Giants have created so much depth on the 40-man roster that it is not an easy call to cut anyone. Everyone has the potential to contribute.
That said, recent performance will likely guide decision-making. Alex Dickerson is becoming one of the more likely candidates to be cut to create a 40-man roster spot for either La Stella or Longoria. The left-handed bat has slashed .217/.286/.401 (85 OPS+) with 10 home runs, 24 runs, and 28 RBI while being worth -0.3 WAR across 227 plate appearances.
His role is to hit right-handed pitching, but he has struggled to the tune of a .663 OPS in 207 plate appearances. Dickerson is picking an especially inopportune time to hit a cold streak as he registered a rough .697 OPS in July. Though, a clutch grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday will help his case.
Aside from him, Donovan Solano could be at risk as well. However, the middle infielder has registered 17 hits in his last 53 at-bats, so he might be sticking on the roster for a little while longer. Unlike Dickerson, Solano is more versatile with the glove. Despite appearing exclusively at second base in 2021, the 33-year-old has experience all around the infield.
One name that does not often get mentioned as a roster bubble candidate is Chadwick Tromp. The Giants, surprisingly, re-signed him to a major league contract this past winter. His role on the 40-man roster was to serve as insurance in case either Buster Posey or Curt Casali hit the injured list. The Giants are committed to allowing Joey Bart to build up repetitions in Triple-A and Tromp’s presence allows this development to continue without interruption.
The Giants will have some time to consider opening a roster spot for Evan Longoria. He is not expected to be due back yet, but he is beginning to ramp up baseball activity.
Tommy La Stella and Brandon Belt are in the midst of rehab assignments, meaning that a pair of roster moves will be made shortly. The Giants will have to get creative with La Stella. On the other hand, Belt is on the 10-day injured list, so he will be much easier to activate. The Giants have some tough decisions ahead, but the good news is that a handful of key veterans will be healthy just in time for the stretch run.