Many SF Giants fans seem to believe that this is the offseason where the Giants will be able to land a big free agent. Perhaps, this belief stems from the fact that they hired Bob Melvin and the fact that the front office seems anxious to land a star player for a roster that is thin on that type of talent. With a free-agent class that has very few safe bets, could this thirst for star power end up hurting the team in the long run?
Could the SF Giants have buyer's remorse if they land a star player this offseason?
Let’s be honest about one thing: Shohei Ohtani is the only superstar in this free-agent class. Signing him is literally the only move that would increase fan attendance on its own, irrespective of team performance. He is a generational talent that would draw more casual baseball fans in the Bay Area who have seemed to stay home more in recent years. Adding Ohtani would be a game-changing move for the Giants.
Let’s be honest about another thing: it is going to be really tough to sign Ohtani given that all of the other big-market teams are in the mix. It is impossible to know what he wants, but my guess is he wants to win after so many years of losing with the Angels. There is nothing about the current situation with the Giants that suggests that their competitive window is open.
Outside of Ohtani, there is no one who will bring fans out to the yard on their own. Very few people are going to come out if Cody Bellinger is a Giant. The same can be said about Matt Chapman. They are both very good players, but each player has a wrinkle in his profile that will give teams and fanbases some cause for concern.
Perhaps the star Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto or Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee could draw some fan interest given their significance on the international market. But they are not known quantities in the way that Ohtani is.
The Giants should not be desperate to give out an exorbitant contract to someone like Bellinger just to try to appease a fan base that doesn’t believe ownership is fully invested in winning. Bellinger would most likely make the Giants better next year, but if the projections for what his contract will be are true, that contract will not be worth it in the long run for his services.
It seems very likely that this offseason will again end in disappointment for many fans. Even if they go out and sign players like Chapman or Sonny Gray, there will be plenty bemoaning the fact that they didn’t go bigger and do more.
Maybe this current iteration of the Giants organization is not capable of building a superstar roster like the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Atlanta Braves. For one reason or another, their brand has gone stale. Whether due to a lack of commitment from ownership or some sort of deep-seated aversion to San Francisco among free agents, they have struggled badly to land the top names on the market.
And they should not give out nine-figure contracts to B-level free agents just to appease the fan base. Try and build the best roster you can given the limitations and only go after free agents aggressively if they are worth it.
This strategy will not please everyone, but it is probably the smartest one if the Giants want to get back to playing in the postseason. Unfortunately, the Giants seem more willing to spend than they have in recent years, but this class may not be the type to invest in outside of Ohtani.