San Francisco Giants: A Look into the Crystal Ball at 2017’s Opening Day Roster

Mar 31, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; The San Francisco Giants players celebrate after defeating the Oakland Athletics 3-1 at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; The San Francisco Giants players celebrate after defeating the Oakland Athletics 3-1 at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

Peer into the crystal ball and see how the San Francisco Giants’ opening day roster will look in 2017.

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Opening day for the 2016 Major League Baseball season is just mere hours away, and the San Francisco Giants have their initial 25-man roster set for their first series of the year with the Milwaukee Brewers. But I decided to break out the crystal ball and peer into the future to see what the Giants’ opening day roster will look like. After clearing all the dust and grime of its sleek surface and giving its mystical powers a chance to work their magic, the crystal ball gave a good look at how the 2017 version of the orange and black will be arranged.

The Giants’ opening day lineup will look surprisingly (or probably more apt, unsurprisingly) similar to this year’s. Buster Posey will be the team’s everyday catcher again, with the infield comprised of homegrown talent in Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Duffy manning the four positions around the dirt. Belt won’t get an extension done in 2016, as he and the team curbed talks during the season to prevent a potential distraction from the field. Similar to Crawford, Belt and the Giants will work out a long-term deal in the offseason. Four years, buying out Belt’s final arbitration year and the first three years of his free agency, is the crystal ball’s prediction.

Two-thirds of the outfield will be the same. Denard Span will be the team’s everyday center fielder for the second straight year, while Hunter Pence will command right field in his sixth season as a Giant. In a familiar turn, left field will see yet another player start on opening day. 2017 will mark the 11th straight year for the Giants with a different left fielder during the season’s first game, but it could be the start of a different streak. Mac Williamson, the young, power-hitting prospect, takes over in left field for the Giants and he has the potential to be there for a long time.

Angel Pagan played well in 2016, and was able to parlay that into a multi-year deal from the Baltimore Orioles. The crystal ball believes he will be placed back into the leadoff role with the Orioles, and stabilize a left field position that, like the Giants, has been anything but sturdy.

80 percent of the starting rotation will return next year. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Cain are all back for more in 2017 with the Giants. Jake Peavy was a strong fourth starter for the Giants in 2016, and San Francisco’s front office attempted to lure him back on a one-year contract. Like Pagan, Peavy received multi-year offers from other teams in a weak free agent pitching market, and took a deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clayton Blackburn, who pitched very well late in the season after a call-up, takes Peavy’s spot as the fifth starter in the rotation after battling it out with a group of others in Spring Training.

After Andrew Susac‘s trade at the deadline in 2016, Trevor Brown is the unquestioned second catcher behind Posey. His game-calling ability is still his best asset, but he hit well enough in 2016 to hold the backup job for another season. In a move similar to the season before, the Giants sign a couple veteran catchers to create a little more depth in the system along with exciting prospect Aramis Garcia, but none really had a chance to make the roster on opening day.

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Kelby Tomlinson and, wait for it, Ehire Adrianza are again your backup infielders in 2017. Top prospect Christian Arroyo gave them a strong run for their money in Spring Training, but the team wisely decided to put Arroyo, still just a pup at only 21 years old, back in Triple-A so he could play everyday and continue to develop.

With Gregor Blanco returning to the Atlanta Braves via free agency to be a starter, Jarrett Parker broke camp as the fourth outfielder. His inconsistent offensive production and extremely high strikeout rate really hurt his case to be an everyday player, but that big time pop, giving him the ability to change a game late with one swing of the bat, as well as his ability to play all three outfield spots, keeps him on the big league roster on opening day.

The Giants will keep a fifth player on the bench (hooray!) after starting two straight seasons with 13 pitchers on opening day. The final outfielder is not currently on the roster, but will be signed next offseason. The crystal ball is not clear on specifically who it will be, but there’s a “u” in his last name (Sam Fuld? David Murphy? Peter Bourjos?).

Finally, the bullpen will also look very similar to this year’s. Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, and Santiago Casilla all became free agents after the season, but the Giants worked very diligently to retain the remaining three members of the bullpen’s “Core Four”. Lopez signed a one-year deal, presumably to pitch one more year before hanging up his cleats at the age of 40.

Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin both were lights out in 2016, and became key members of a very reliable bullpen. They start 2017 with very big roles on the team. Josh Osich struggled early in 2016 with his pitch command, eventually being sent back to Triple-A to fine-tune some things, but returned to San Francisco and again became a key piece. He starts 2017 on the opening day roster for the second consecutive season. George Kontos wasn’t as dominant in 2016 as he was in 2015, but still pitched well enough to maintain his role. The odd man out is Chris Heston, who returns to Triple-A to remain organizational depth.

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There you have it, the crystal ball has spoken. The Giants’ 2017 roster is almost identical to 2016’s, save for four players. After a highly-successful 2016, the Giants didn’t need to change much anyway.

*Disclaimer: crystal ball not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate.