Giants remain flexible on 25-man roster

Giants remain flexible on 25-man roster

With Spring Training fast approaching, takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Giants squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants continued to add non-roster players into the offseason's final week, suggesting that they're willing to maintain an open mind by considering a wide spectrum of performers for the 25-man Opening Day squad.

Left field will be the site of the most competition, though jostling for position also is likely to break out among candidates at third base and for the No. 5 starter's spot.

The Giants typically prolong suspense regarding final roster cuts into the last day or two of the exhibition season, while they're facing the A's in the Bay Bridge Series. This year probably will be no exception.

Catcher (2): Buster Posey, Nick Hundley
General manager Bobby Evans has indicated Hundley, who's entering his 10th Major League season, will supplant Trevor Brown as Posey's backup. Brown's ability to play infield spots will sweeten his value and make him difficult to demote to Triple-A.

First base (1): Brandon Belt
A lot of people believe Posey should be playing here to preserve his hitting skills while Belt moves to left field, where he has gained a smattering of experience. It won't happen.

Second base (1): Joe Panik
Panik has no reason for concern if he performs up to his usual standard. But his batting average dropped from .312 in 2015 to .239 last year, so Kelby Tomlinson and Gordon Beckham could get a look.

Panik on Gold Glove Award

Third base (1): Eduardo Nunez
Nunez could play as many as 150 games, but they probably won't be all at third base. He's capable of playing virtually every position, making him especially handy to have on the roster.

Shortstop (1): Brandon Crawford
Tomlinson, who has extensive Minor League experience at shortstop, appears to be the leading choice to provide depth here. He won't be needed much, because Crawford will play at least 150 games if he's healthy.

Haft on Crawford's leadership

Utility (2): Tomlinson, Conor Gillaspie
Versatility's always a top priority here, explaining why Tomlinson appears to be one of the favorites for a bench role. Gillaspie proved valuable in last year's postseason, but he'll have to beat out Beckham for a job. Respect and attention must be paid to Jimmy Rollins, but the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player has played shortstop only for all but one inning of his 17-year career.

Outfield (5): Jarrett Parker, Denard Span, Hunter Pence, Gorkys Hernandez, Michael Morse
If the race for the left-field berth between Parker and Mac Williamson is close, expect Parker to get the job, since he's out of Minor League options and the Giants probably will want to maintain player inventory. Span and Pence start in center and right, respectively. Hernandez assumes Gregor Blanco's fourth-outfielder role. Morse will stick around as long as he's healthy to provide power off the bench.

Pence made his mark in Texas

Starting pitchers (5): Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, Matt Cain
If Cain has recovered from his ailments and can approach his All-Star-level ability, he'll leave camp with the No. 5 starter's spot. But Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn and perhaps Tyler Beede will make Cain earn it.

Relief pitchers (7): Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, George Kontos, Derek Law, Cory Gearrin, Josh Osich, Will Smith
This contingent is far from set. Lively armed left-hander Steven Okert will receive every opportunity to win a job. If the Giants decide they need a legitimate long reliever, Albert Suarez almost certainly will claim that title.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.