Over the last week or so, the San Francisco Giants were hit hard with injuries, as both Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija will open the season on the disabled list. Samardzija has a shoulder issue. Bumgarner suffered a broken hand when he was hit by a comebacker.

With Bumgarner and Samardzija out, the Giants are slated to begin the 2018 season with this rotation:

  1. Ty Blach
  2. Johnny Cueto
  3. Derek Holland
  4. Chris Stratton
  5. ???

Blach was announced as the Opening Day starter over the weekend -- the Bumgarner and Samardzija injuries happened late in spring training and there wasn't enough time to rearrange the schedule to line Cueto up for the season opener -- and, thanks to off-days, the Giants won't need a fifth starter until April 10th, their 11th game of the season.

The Giants went 64-98 last season and worked hard to improve their roster over the winter, adding Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen (among others), so it is no surprise then they are at least considering outside help for the rotation in the wake of Bumgarner and Samardzija injuries:

One potential obstacle: The $197 million luxury tax threshold. The Giants have said they want to stay under the threshold this season, or at least not go over it excessively. Last month San Francisco signed reliever Tony Watson to a three-year deal that bumps them right up against the $197 million threshold. Once they add Holland, currently a non-roster invite to spring training, to the active roster, it will likely push the Giants over $197 million.

Of course, Opening Day is only a few days away, so the biggest obstacle is finding available pitching. The Giants can only exceed the luxury tax threshold if they find a worthwhile pitcher to add, after all. The free agent market has been picked clean and teams with rotation depth are usually hesitant to trade it right before Opening Day. That means the Giants may be left mining the waiver wire and scouring the scrap heap for rotation help.

That said, there are some starting pitchers currently available on the cheap, and if nothing else, the Giants could look to bring them in as an insurance policy. They can not afford another rotation injury, and if prospects like Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, Tyler Herb, and Joan Gregorio aren't ready to step into the fifth starter's spot on April 10th. the Giants will want alternatives. These six veterans, listed alphabetically, are a possibility. You are forewarned, Giants fans. It is not a sexy list.

The Texas Rangers released Bartolo Colon from his minor league contract over the weekend, though they are said to be open to re-signing him to a new minor league deal. The release/re-sign trick allows the Rangers to avoid paying Colon the collective bargaining agreement mandated $100,000 retention bonus for players with more than six years of service time on a minor league contract.

The release also gives the Giants the opportunity to swoop in with a guaranteed major league contract. Surely Colon would take a spot in San Francisco's rotation over a minor league deal anywhere else. The now 44-year-old Colon had a good spring training, pitching to a 3.00 ERA in five starts and 18 innings. That includes 5 1/3 shutout innings in his last start last week.

By no means is Colon a difference-maker at this point of his career. He threw 143 innings with a 6.43 ERA last season, including 80 innings with a 5.18 ERA for the Minnesota Twins after being released by the Atlanta Braves. At this point though, the Giants are simple looking for an innings guy to hold them over until Bumgarner or Samardzija returns. Colon can be that guy.

Scott Feldman

Veteran righty Scott Feldman was been an afterthought this offseason, which is the sort of thing that tends to happen when you have season-ending knee surgery in August. The 35-year-old Feldman had a 3.78 ERA through 17 starts and 97 2/3 innings for the Cincinnati Reds last season before the knee starting acting up, then he got blasted for 18 runs in 13 2/3 innings in four starts while trying to pitch through the pain. That gave him a 4.77 ERA for the season.

From 2013-16, Feldman quietly pitched to a 3.85 ERA in 547 1/3 innings, right in line with his pre-knee injury performance last year. He also pitched as both a starter and reliever, meaning he could slot into the bullpen as a long man once Bumgarner and Samardzija are healthy. He's familiar with the role. For what it's worth, the Giants have been connected to Feldman in recent days:

A minor league contract carries no risk, and, if Feldman manages to perform anything like he did from 2013 through the start of his 2017 knee troubles, he could be a real nice low-cost pickup for the Giants.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed Yovani Gallardo to a non-guaranteed one-year contract worth $2 million over the winter, and a few days ago, the club determined he will not crack their Opening Day roster. 

Because the contract is not guaranteed, the Brewers can release Gallardo and pay him only one-fourth of his salary before Opening Day. GM David Stearns will surely try to trade him, but any interested team knows a release is imminent, so they'll probably just wait until Gallardo is released and try to sign him rather than trade anything for him.

The 32-year-old Gallardo didn't have a great spring, allowing 10 runs (seven earned) on 12 hits and eight walks in 13 1/ innings, and last season he 130 2/3 innings with a 5.72 ERA for the Seattle Mariners. They had to demote him to the bullpen at midseason. Over the last two seasons, Gallardo has a 5.57 ERA in 248 2/3 innings. Yikes.

The pitching pickings tend to be pretty slim this time of year, and the two most appealing things about Gallardo are that he's available and he was quite good once upon a time. It's been a few years though. He's someone the Giants could look at for a low-risk minor league deal, and see whether they can catch lightning in a bottle.

A hip injury prevented Scott Kazmir from throwing a single pitch last season, and over the winter he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Braves in the big Matt Kemp salary-shuffling deal. Kazmir was healthy enough to pitch this spring, allowing six runs (five earned) in 9 2/3 innings.

The Braves released Kazmir following his outing Saturday, in which he allowed a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning, but did not look good at all. His fastball reportedly sat in the mid-80s and hitters looked mighty comfortable in the box. There may be an explanation for that though:

Throwing an extended bullpen session Wednesday, then pitching in a game Saturday could explain Kazmir's less-than-stellar showing. Keep in mind he didn't pitch last year at all and is still building up his stamina as well.

The Braves are still on the hook for Kazmir's $16 million salary this season, and any team can now sign him for the pro-rated portion of the $545,000 league minimum. That is a good number for the Giants given their plan to stay under -- or at least avoid excessively exceeding -- the luxury tax threshold. Every dollar counts though, and given his injury, it would take a leap of faith to count on Kazmir as a rotation piece at this point. The Giants may not want to assume that risk, even at the league minimum.

These two would be the ideal pitching targets. Both Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock are slated to begin the season in the Houston Astros bullpen -- they've been pushed out of the rotation by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole -- so it stands to reason the 'Stros would at least entertain trade offers.

I see two problems with McHugh and Peacock for the Giants, however.

  1. They both make decent money. McHugh will make $5 million this season while Peacock will make $2.44 million. Those numbers don't fit well with San Francisco's luxury tax plan.
  2. They'll have to trade something of value to get them. Peacock was pretty excellent last season and McHugh has a long track record of being serviceable (or better). The Astros aren't giving either guy away. They'll want a good return.

Houston's rotation is stacked, though Lance McCullers Jr. and Dallas Keuchel have visited the disabled list a few times in recent years, so I imagine GM Jeff Luhnow likes the idea of having McHugh and Peacock around as rotation depth. What are the chances both guys wind up making starts in 2018? Pretty darn good, I'd say.

The Giants do not have a robust farm system at the moment, especially after the Longoria and McCutchen trades, and they may not want to part with any of their remaining prospects for McHugh or Peacock even though they represent a nice upgrade over San Francisco's current rotation options. The logistics (salary, trade package) may not work.

It is worth noting the Giants are likely to get right-hander Albert Suarez back at some point before Opening Day. He was in camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a Rule 5 Draft pick, and the D-Backs designated him for assignment over the weekend. Once he goes through waivers, he'll be offered back to the Giants as per the Rule 5 Draft rules.

The 28-year-old Suarez appeared in 40 games (12 starts) with the Giants the last two years, pitching to a 4.54 ERA. Once he rejoins the organization, the Giants can stash him in Triple-A as a depth option should they need another starter at some point before Bumgarner and Samardzija return. Perhaps getting Suarez back lessens the need for outside help, though I don't think the Giants see it this way.

Clearly, a trade for McHugh or Peacock would be the ideal scenario for the Giants. They're both solid pitchers who could stick in the rotation long-term, even after Bumgarner and Samardzija return. That said, their salaries and the fact it'll require giving up a good trade package to get them is an obstacle. I don't know about you, but I get a very Vogelsong-ian vibe from Feldman. He seems like the best realistic fit.