Projecting Giants' Opening Day roster one month into spring training

Projecting Giants' Opening Day roster one month into spring training originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In exactly two weeks, the Giants will make the short flight from SFO to San Diego, where they'll open their 2024 MLB season with four games against a Padres squad with a much different look. It won't be hard to find storylines when they arrive.

Bob Melvin will face his old team for the first time, and while he remains close with many Padres players, the expectation is that the fan base will let him hear it as he takes the field in orange and black. Close friends Jung Hoo Lee and Ha-Seong Kim will face off for the first time, and Lee might get a matchup against Padres right-hander Woo-Suk Go, his brother-in-law. Matt Chapman, Jorge Soler and Jordan Hicks will make their Giants debuts, and there could be at least one rookie making his first MLB appearance.

That busy first weekend is approaching quickly, but the Giants still have a lot of work to do. They made several notable cuts this week -- sending Heliot Ramos, Erik Miller, Brett Wisely and others to minor league camp -- but they still have 53 healthy players in camp and a few key decisions to make.

With a month of camp in the books, here's an updated look at how the roster is shaping up:


This pairing was set in December when the Giants signed veteran Tom Murphy to a two-year deal to back up Patrick Bailey. The early reviews have been very positive on the 32-year-old, who has the look of someone who will coach or manage one day. Melvin, a former big league catcher himself, lit up earlier in camp when asked about Murphy.

"Intense. Intense. He's got very intense eyes," he said. "I think the pitchers feel that, too. And he's at the point of time of his career where he kind of wants to be that coach on the field, too. You come into an organization and sometimes it takes a while to find your footing, but from the very beginning he wanted a bunch of material before he got to camp with video and breakdowns. He hit the ground running."

Joey Bart has had a good spring but is out of options, and the Giants will see if his trade market has improved since camps started. Blake Sabol, last year's backup, has a strained groin, but even before that, he was getting many of his reps at first base and in left field.


Chapman's arrival gave the Giants a Gold Glove defender at third, and he might not be the only one on the left side with hardware. Two-time Gold Glove Award winner Nick Ahmed was signed late but is the frontrunner to start at short on Opening Day.

The Giants are set at first with LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores. Thairo Estrada has flown under the radar this spring, but he remains as good a bet as any to lead the team in WAR. Melvin has told Estrada that he's ready to take the next step and become an All-Star.

The J.D. Davis move left the Giants with an open sixth spot, but there doesn't seem to be much of a competition. The bench is likely to consist of Murphy, Flores or Wade, and Austin Slater. That's a group that needs more defensive versatility, and the entire roster needs more speed. Enter second-year burner Tyler Fitzgerald, a clear frontrunner thanks to his ability to play three infield spots and center field.

"There's a lot to like about him," Melvin said.


After signing Soler to be the DH, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made it clear that his preferred starting trio is Michael Conforto in left, Lee in center and Mike Yastrzemski in right. It'll be an improved defensive unit, and there's hope that Conforto breaks through after a fully healthy offseason.

Slater, the longest-tenured Giant, can play either corner against left-handed pitchers. Soler started a game in right field on Saturday, but if all goes according to plan, the Giants won't need him on the grass very often.

The snub here is Luis Matos, who hit three homers early in camp but has cooled down. The 22-year-old bulked up in the offseason and should still get plenty of plate appearances this season even if he begins the year in Sacramento. The outfield is full of veterans who have had trouble staying healthy.


Yes, the Giants are well aware that Blake Snell still is on the market. But even if Snell signed this week, he likely wouldn't be ready for the start of the season. And there's not exactly an expectation at Scottsdale Stadium that he's on the way.

The plan is to go young until rehabbing veterans are ready, starting in the No. 2 spot, with Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Harrison backing up Logan Webb. Hicks has looked sharp this spring and Keaton Winn should have enough time to get up to speed after missing workouts early in camp with elbow soreness.

The frontrunner for the fifth spot is right-handed prospect Mason Black, who had a 3.86 ERA in Triple-A last season. At the start of camp, Zaidi said he felt the 24-year-old was ready to contribute this year. With Tristan Beck sidelined, those innings could come right away. Black said he's trying not to dream about what might be coming at the end of the month.

"Obviously it was my goal coming in here that I wanted to have that opportunity and put myself in a good spot to break with the team," Black said. "That goal is always there, but I'm just taking it day by day and not setting expectations."

The Giants plan to lean on young pitching all season, but the team's oldest player should provide a boost sooner than expected. Alex Cobb originally was thought to be out until closer to midseason after offseason hip surgery, but he is weeks ahead of schedule and now could join the rotation at some point in April.


Five spots were set in stone when the Giants reported: Camilo Doval, the Rogers twins, Ryan Walker and Luke Jackson. Nothing has changed on that front. Sean Hjelle looked like an early frontrunner to be the long man but he'll be shut down for a few weeks after discomfort in his right elbow.

Even without Hjelle, the Giants still could carry multiple long relief types. The list of options is long and includes plenty of veterans with big league experience, along with minor leagues like Landen Roupp and Spencer Bivens, a late addition to camp.

Spencer Howard has MLB time with the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers and has been starting this spring, so he's a strong option to give the bullpen length. Melvin knows Daulton Jefferies from Oakland and the righty finally is healthy after years of brutal injury luck. Blayne Enlow made a statement Tuesday, throwing three shutout innings against the Dodgers' A-squad.

Melvin wants a second lefty in the bullpen, and Ethan Small -- who made cameos for the Milwaukee Brewers the last two seasons -- certainly will be helped by the fact that he's already on the 40-man roster. The Giants might need spots for Ahmed, Black and at least one reliever, so it's going to get tight. Veteran Amir Garrett hasn't had the smoothest spring, but he has plenty of big-league experience and played for pitching coach Bryan Price in Cincinnati.

While most of the roster is set, there's still a real competition for the final bullpen spots, with just one certainty: Whoever makes it is going to have to give the Giants some multi-inning stints in April because of the makeup of the rotation.

"If we're going to be careful with (the starters) early, then we're going to need some bridge guys," Melvin said.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast