2 SF Giants roster battles to monitor in spring training

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Interestingly, the SF Giants roster is mostly settled. There are not many open roster battles going on in camp, but there are still two to monitor this spring - utility glove and left-handed reliever.

2 SF Giants roster battles to monitor in spring training

There could be a battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Keaton Winn was shut down after experiencing some elbow discomfort earlier this week, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that he is cleared to begin throwing again. Presumably, he is still in line to make the Opening Day rotation.

Outside of Winn, the Giants have Logan Webb, Jordan Hicks, Kyle Harrison, and Tristan Beck penciled in to the rotation to start the year. If any of them are not ready, it could create an opportunity for someone like Sean Hjelle, who is on the 40-man roster. Or, it could be an opportunity for one of their younger pitchers who are in camp as non-roster invitees.

Perhaps, there is an opening for more than one reliever to make the team. Camilo Doval, Tyler Rogers, Taylor Rogers, Ryan Walker, and Luke Jackson will consist of the core bullpen arms. If the Giants carry eight relievers, they have room for three more and not too many experienced options outside of the five mentioned above.

1. Utility infielder

The infield alignment is settled with one exception. Patrick Bailey and Tom Murphy will serve as the primary catchers. LaMonte Wade Jr., Wilmer Flores, Thairo Estrada, Marco Luciano, and J.D. Davis will round out the rest of the group.

The Giants have a lot of right-handed-hitting infielders and not too many options in camp who hit from the left side. Importantly, they need someone who can play a competent shortstop.

The Giants are committed to Luciano being the everyday shortstop, but they need another capable shortstop in case of injuries or underperformance. And, it feels like they are making the same mistake they made last offseason with a lack of shortstop depth.

In camp, the Giants have Otto López, Tyler Fitzgerald, Casey Schmitt, and Brett Wisely competing for that utility glove role. Wisely is better suited for the right side of the infielder. Though, he does have experience in center field as well.

On the other hand, Schmitt's best position is third base. He saw time up the middle last year, but it really feels like he needs more seasoning in Triple-A.

That leaves López and Fitzgerald. Both have multi-positional experience and speed, which are two things that could help the Giants. There is a good chance that the utility bat sees time not only in the infield, but as a fifth outfielder as well.

The Giants' outfield leans in favor of lefty bats with Michael Conforto, Jung Hoo Lee, and Mike Yastrzemski. Manager Bob Melvin will likely not rely on platoons as much as the Giants have in recent years, but it is good to have more balance. Both Fitzgerald and López check that box as they each one hits from the right side.

That said, they have different offensive profiles. Fitzgerald hits with much more power and strikes out at a much higher rate. That is often the tradeoff with power. In each of the past two seasons, he has reached the 20-homer mark. His value with the bat will be determined by how many home runs he can hit.

However, López grinds out at-bats, takes a healthy number of walks, and puts the ball in play at a high rate. He offers no power as he has never hit more than five home runs in any season. His value will be influenced by how many holes in the defense he can find.

Both are good baserunners, but Fitzgerald is arguably the better base stealer. Each player is going to get plenty of playing time this spring, but López is more competent on the left side of the infield. That could be the fact that gives him the edge.

Update: The Giants have added to the competition by signing veteran infielder Nick Ahmed to a minor league deal, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.