January is a slow baseball month. Last January, the Giants signed Brian Burres, Todd Linden, Wilmin Rodriguez, and Gregor Blanco. Obviously the Blanco signing turned out to be pretty important in regards to how the season went, but the point is that the major signings are over. Sorry folks, the Giants aren’t trading for Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton and they are going to sign Michael Bourn. The time for major roster moves has come and gone.
As I laid out in a series of posts last week, the Giants have up to three roster spots still available. There’s a spot in the bullpen, a spot for a sixth infielder, and a fifth outfielder available. Let’s run down the candidates for each spot.
Bullpen: The Guillermo Mota/Clay Hensley Last Spot in the Bullpen is, as of yet, unclaimed. The internal candidates are Dan Otero, Jean Machi, and Heath Hembree. Players the team has picked up this offseason who will presumably be given a chance to win that spot include Sandy Rosario, Mason Tobin, Scott Proctor, and Chad Gaudin.
There are a number of relievers still available on the market, however I don’t think the Giants are going to sign another reliever. Their bullpen is already set to make roughly $20 million, which makes it the second-most expensive bullpen in the majors (behind the Phillies) and payroll is approaching $140 million, which would seem to be the upper limit for the team.
There is one interesting name on the market that likely will not cost very much: Brian Wilson.
I don’t believe the Giants will sign him for two reasons: I don’t think he’s particularly close to being ready to pitch, and I think there has been a decent amount of bad blood this offseason between Wilson and Giants management. My prediction, as of now, is that Sandy Rosario will be the seventh reliever in the ‘pen. He’s struck out more than a man an inning in his minor league career, in addition to walking only 2.1 per 9 innings. He’s been waived more times than Eli Whiteside this offseason, but I think the Giants will stick with him and he’ll be the last guy out of the bullpen.
Infield: The five players who are definitely making the roster are Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, and Joaquin Arias. That leaves one utility spot available. Internal options are slim: Nick Noonan, and maybe Conor Gillaspie. The Giants also signed Wilson Valdez and Japanese infielder Kensuke Tanaka to minor league contracts.
As far as external options go, both Ryan Theriot and Freddy Sanchez remain unsigned. Gillaspie is out of options, so he would have to make the 25-man roster or be exposed to waivers. As I mentioned last week, I expect the Giants will try to trade him over the course of the next two months. My prediction is that the Ryan Theriot will be the sixth and final infielder on the roster. I think he’ll get the Pat Burrell special – no, not that one you perverts – a 1 year, $1 million contract. His ability to play short in a pinch and his right-handedness will win him the job.
Outfield: The Giants have four outfielders on the 25-man right now: Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Blanco, and Andres Torres. Presumably, those four will see the lion’s share of the starts in the outfield, and the team is just looking for a fifth outfielder. The internal options are Roger Kieschnick, Francisco Peguero, and Juan Perez. They also signed free agents Cole Gillaspie and Javier Herrera to minor-league deals.
There is one player still available who I find moderately interesting, and that’s Scott Hairston. He’s younger than I thought (turns 33 this year), crushes lefties (135 wRC+ vs. LHP last year) and he plays decent defense in both right and left. The chatter early in the offseason was that he wanted a deal in the 2-yr/$12 million range, but now that the market seems to have slowed for him I would be interested in offering him a contract similar to the one Cody Ross signed with Boston last offseason – a one year deal in the $3-$4 million range. If he’d be willing to take a deal like that I think he could be an interesting play. That said, I don’t think that will happen.
My prediction is that Francisco Peguero will be the fifth outfielder going into the season. He’s a former top prospect, he plays good defense, and he runs well. I’ve laid out my arguments against Peguero in the past – I’m not sold on his bat, I don’t think he’ll ever draw enough walks to be valuable, and I think major league pitchers will exploit his weaknesses against quality off-speed pitches – but I think that he’ll get the first crack at the fifth outfielder spot.
So there you have it, the final three roster spots: Sandy Rosario, Ryan Theriot, and Francisco Peguero. Boy, is it April yet?