SAN FRANCISCO — When we looked over the roster a month ago, the Giants had six open spots on their 40-man roster. They now have just one — although they can easily clear space for future additions — but they still have not made any significant moves.
To this point, the Giants have added just one player on a big league deal, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. Their offseason spending through two months amounts to $585,000, Venditte’s salary if he’s in the big leagues, a drop in the bucket compared to past winters.
The Giants will at some point add more notable names. Their goal all along has been to play it slow and make their biggest waves in late January or even February, when veterans should be available on short-term deals. That has made for a boring offseason thus far, but we’ve still learned a bit about the direction of this roster, so here’s an updated look at where things stand …
Catcher: The Giants still have just two catchers on their 40-man roster: Buster Posey and Aramis Garcia. They signed veteran Cameron Rupp to a minor league deal in early December but that was more to fill in at Triple-A, where they have little catching depth. The good news is that Posey remains on track to be ready for Opening Day, and Farhan Zaidi expects him to have his usual season behind the plate workload-wise.
As for the backup spot, Zaidi has talked at length about finding a versatile backup catcher, someone in the Austin Barnes mold, so a reunion with Nick Hundley seems unlikely at the moment. Hundley is still a free agent, though.
Corner Infield: There have been no additions here. More notable, no subtractions, either. Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria represent two salaries the new front office will try to move at some point, but at the moment they remain set to hit in the middle of the order.
Middle Infield: The Giants dealt for Breyvic Valera over the weekend, and if he remains on the roster for another five weeks, he should enter the spring battling Alen Hanson, Abiatal Avelino and others for a backup job. Expect more movement here. Zaidi would like to find a right-handed complement for Joe Panik, and there are still some big-name second basemen available.
Outfield: This group has seen the most interesting additions, as Mike Gerber and Drew Ferguson have been added to compete with Chris Shaw, Austin Slater and Mac Williamson. Zaidi said a month ago that he expected to add a couple more outfielders. The Giants have serious holes here and still could add a starting left fielder and right fielder over the next month.
Rotation: The most fascinating thing Zaidi said in Las Vegas was that he wanted to add enough pitching depth that Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez could start the season in the minors. The Giants aren’t even close to that. Madison Bumgarner remains, and Jeff Samardzija is said to be doing well, but the organization has not added a starter through two winter months.
Derek Holland is still on the market and would be a strong move. There are others who could fit the one-year-deal desire, and Zaidi is hoping to sell some veterans on the fact that AT&T Park is a great place to try to build up your value for a year. There’s still plenty of time for the Giants to add here, but it’s hard to see how they’ll accrue enough depth to allow Rodriguez and Suarez to be slow-played.
Bullpen: This group could end up having the biggest changes this offseason. Venditte and left-handed Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen have a decent shot at making the Opening Day roster, and the Giants could clear spots by trading Will Smith, Tony Watson or both. They’ve gotten plenty of calls on Smith, in particular, and anticipate that trade talks will pick up on their relievers as more and more free agents come off the board.