Seeking upgrade, Giants release Valdez
Club exploring all options to find another backup infielder; Ramirez also cut
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dissatisfied with their infield depth, the Giants released Wilson Valdez on Friday morning, apparently convinced that they can find an upgrade.
Vice president and assistant general manager Bobby Evans indicated that the Giants would consider multiple alternatives for the second backup infielder's spot behind Joaquin Arias.
San Francisco's next infielder could be wearing another uniform or freshly unemployed. Virtually every team is currently releasing veterans to meet contractual obligations and give them time to find work with other clubs. One team's discard could look attractive to another team.
Evans acknowledged that the Giants would consider acquiring an infielder through trade or the waiver wire. He described the availability of players as "a constant flow." Added Evans, "I wouldn't put anything past the possibility [of an acquisition], but there's nothing that's percolated."
Internal options also exist. In an ideal world, Tony Abreu would be primed to handle the utility role. He has extensive experience at second base, shortstop and third base, reflecting the versatility the Giants seek. But Abreu, who was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on Feb. 4, is recovering from a left knee injury and has played only one spring game.
"We're waiting until he's pain-free," Evans said.
Manager Bruce Bochy suggested that Abreu, 28, would be worth the wait.
"This kid has some talent," Bochy said.
Abreu's questionable health has created a fresh opportunity for Nick Noonan, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 15. With the April 1 regular-season opener at Los Angeles looming, Abreu could begin the season on the disabled list.
"That bodes well for Noonan," Evans said.
Noonan contributed a seventh-inning homer in the Giants' 11-6 Cactus League victory Friday over the Colorado Rockies.
Though it's unusual for a demoted player to receive a second chance during the same camp, the Giants aren't afraid to be unconventional.
"We tell these guys that even though they're optioned out, they're not out of the picture," said Bochy.
Noonan originally was in the lineup at second base for Friday's game, but he was moved to third, the position that he has played the least (37 games) since the Giants selected him 32nd overall in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. But he handled four chances flawlessly, two at third and two at shortstop.
Noonan is coming off his best all-around season, having hit .296 with nine homers and 62 RBIs for Fresno last year.
"I came into camp trying to work for a spot on the team, and that hasn't stopped," said Noonan, 23. "I have to keep pushing and grinding and see what happens."
Valdez, 34, possessed the experience around the infield that the Giants want, but he batted .194 in 18 Cactus League games.
The Giants also released right-hander Ramon Ramirez, who played a key role in their surge to the 2010 World Series championship. Ramirez owned an 11.25 ERA in eight appearances, a sharp decline from 2.07 ERA he recorded in 91 games for San Francisco in 2010-11.
The Giants traded Ramirez and outfielder Andres Torres to the Mets for center fielder Angel Pagan during the 2011 Winter Meetings and re-signed all three as free agents during the offseason. Chad Gaudin, Jean Machi and Scott Proctor forged ahead of Ramirez throughout the spring in the competition for the bullpen's lone vacancy.
The moves trimmed the Giants' spring roster to 32.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.