Did Greg Johnson's offseason comments force the SF Giants to spend too much?

Did Greg Johnson's comments doom the Giants?
San Francisco Giants Introduce Bob Melvin
San Francisco Giants Introduce Bob Melvin / Suzanna Mitchell/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

There was a lot of buzz this offseason amongst SF Giants fans when team chairman Greg Johnson made his infamous "break even" comment which was interpreted as him saying the team wanted to make money more than win. Did the team overcompensate for this poor remark in free agency?

Did Greg Johnson's offseason comments force the SF Giants to spend too much?

A recent interview appearance by Johnson on Tim Kawakami's podcast saw the chairman express regret for that "somewhat break even" comment. Here is what he said:

"I will say it was a naive statement by a control person that learned a lesson not to use that word ever again and I will not use that word ever again. I was just making a point, again, that we represent a group of investors and we would rather not lose money every year but I think what we have shown is that the mission of this group is to win championships and we will lose money to do that. I made a comment, yeah we would like to break even, I said that is pretty hard to do – Ooh, I said the word again; that was terrible… But you will never hear that out of me again and I think we backed that up."

Giants Chairman Greg Johnson

It is clear that Johnson understands the impact that comment had on the fanbase at the time. It fed into the narrative that the Giants simply did not want to spend money and were not serious about being competitive.

However, to the team's credit they went out and were aggressive after those comments. They signed Jung Hoo Lee, Jorge Soler, Jordan Hicks, and eventually Matt Chapman and Blake Snell. Despite this, the team still sits right around .500, playing the same mediocre kind of baseball that characterized the last two seasons. Was it a mistake to go so aggressive in free agency?

Some could argue yes given the extremely mixed results from the free agent class so far. No one could have predicted Lee's season ending injury, but Snell has not been worth the investment so far and neither has Soler. Defenders of the front office's approach in recent years could easily point to these free agents as an argument for restraint in free agency.

However, this discounts the psychological impact of bringing in these free agents. At the very least it signaled to the fans that yes, this front office does care about winning and is willing to spend money to do so. The fact that was even in question is a dangerous situation for a front office to be in, so they needed to earn back fan trust.

It is still early and there is plenty of time for Soler and Snell to turn things around. The Giants have been lucky to get contributions from their younger players so they are still competitive, but if they are going to make the postseason they are going to need more from their free agent acquisitions.