Why Giants' roster had odd couple of days for Johnson, Wisely


NEW YORK -- The move was odd when it happened, and appeared on the surface to be even more bizarre two days later when part of it was essentially undone. 

After a strong spring that seemed to win him an Opening Day job, outfielder Bryce Johnson walked out of the clubhouse in disappointment on Thursday morning. Brett Wisely, who thought he was headed to Triple-A, ended up making the roster, and the Giants hurriedly put up a placard on a locker for new addition Matt Beaty

Two days later, Wisely was gone and Johnson -- who never left New York -- was back on the active roster. 

It looked straight out of 2019, when Farhan Zaidi added Connor Joe and Michael Reed to the roster to see if either could stick, and in part it was. But the Giants feel they ended up just about where they would have, just in an odd way that was required because of a couple of different issues behind the scenes. 

The first was that Beaty, a player the Giants coveted, didn't make the Kansas City Royals' roster but had an "upward mobility" clause in his contract. That meant if another team offered him a big league job in the next 48 hours, the Royals had to let him go. It's somewhat rare for players to get a shot because of that, but the Giants scooped Beaty up for cash considerations. 

Beaty has an option remaining and likely will spend plenty of time in Triple-A this season, but he had to be on the initial roster, which represented a promotion from being on the Royals' Triple-A roster. 

The second issue had to do with a second trade that ultimately didn't go through. The Giants ended the spring knowing they had three 40-man roster spots to work with because Luis Gonzalez, Thomas Szapucki and Luke Jackson were going on the 60-day IL. But Jackson didn't go on that list until Saturday. 

The Giants used the other two spots on Roberto Perez and Beaty, but kept Jackson's spot open because they were trying to acquire a player who would have gone on the 40-man. When that deal fell through, they were able to give the spot to Johnson, who was outrighted in the offseason but now is back and expected to play a role in the outfield, where he's the Giants' best defender and baserunner. 

In the end, the Giants are about exactly where they telegraphed they would be. Johnson is on the roster, although Beaty is in Sean Hjelle's spot until the Giants need an additional pitcher. With Hjelle still traveling with the team, that could happen soon.

"We expect Bryce And Brett both to make contributions on our roster this year and probably significant ones where they spend significant periods of time on our roster," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Obviously Wisely was already on our 40-man, Bryce was not. We had some things in the works that I'm not going to get into detail on. That made it easier to roll with somebody that was already on the roster for Opening Day and then see where we were. 

"We understood that if we needed to, we could pivot to Bryce, who had a fantastic spring for us and earned the right to be here for the beginning of the season and we're glad to have him on the roster today."

From a roster-construction standpoint, it all makes sense. The Giants hoped to add two pieces of position player depth to their roster and ended up with an experienced bench option in Beaty, basically for free. There's a human element to this, though, and that's where any cost could be found. 

One of the most overrated things in the sport is the Opening Day roster, but it's still a cool and meaningful day, and Johnson didn't get the chance to line up at Yankee Stadium on Thursday after earning that right in Scottsdale

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Wisely's parents weren't able to be there for his big league debut because he had been told Wednesday that he was headed to join the Triple-A Sacramento team in Salt Lake City, only to learn a few hours later that he was being added because the Giants needed center field depth for their opener and still were working on a potential second deal.

It was a bittersweet situation, but one the Giants felt was unavoidable because of all the balls in the air as first pitch approached. 

"What a crazy ride," Wisely said on Thursday. 

Indeed it was. 

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