The answer is yes. The answer is clearly yes. The SF Giants targeted yet another star player in Aaron Judge in free agency but came away empty handed again. So, what is the issue?
Do the SF Giants have a recruiting problem?
Judge is just the latest example. The Giants have whiffed on top-tier players in free agency like Bryce Harper, Jon Lester, or Zack Greinke. If you go further back, San Francisco struck out on Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano.
They had zero to show for their efforts for Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. 30 years ago, the Giants made a massive splash in free agency by signing Barry Bonds to a seven-year, $43.5 million pact. Since then, Aaron Rowand's five-year, $60 million deal is the largest contract that the Giants have handed out to a free-agent position player.
In 30 years, there are far too many misses for a team that has been to the World Series four times in the last 22 years. Not every team can say that.
Inevitably, the Giants will shift gears and pursue Carlos Correa but will they learn anything from their pursuit of Judge? Can they fix it in time? It is not necessarily Judge that is frustrating to the fan base, it is the pattern of misses.
So, why are the Giants unable to land stars, especially position players, in free agency? The ballpark is one factor. The dimensions are too large and the climate is not conducive for power hitters. Sure, that could be a factor.
On the other hand, every pitcher should be banging on the Giants' door to play at Oracle Park. San Francisco has landed some top pitchers like Barry Zito, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija. That said, none of those deals panned out.
The tax rates are high in California. The Giants, or any team in California, has to account for taxes in any contract offer but that has hardly stopped teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, or the San Diego Padres from landing top targets. That could be a factor.
Is it the organization itself? It has to be at this point. The Giants have won three championships in five years, but the 10-year anniversary of the last title is right around the corner. Has hubris from success gotten in the way?
It has to be. When you think about it, the Giants went 81-81 last year. They were good enough to finish right in the middle and they have the roster that matches it. Outside of Logan Webb, San Francisco does not have the type of star player that would attract top talent.
Why would Aaron Judge or Bryce Harper choose to play in San Francisco? They have not built a team recently that excites free agents. The farm system has not fed the major league roster in years with the exception of Webb.
Sure, the Giants have some top prospects coming up in Kyle Harrison and Marco Luciano coming up but it might be a while before they make an impact, if they ever do. It is not just the roster, but it is the fact that the farm system has not produced a position player in over a decade and everyone knows it. It is a tough blend of an uninspiring roster to go along with a farm system that could, maybe, possibly produce in a few years. Free agents will not bet on it.
The Giants are in the midst of a dilemma. The roster is stale due in part to the fact that the farm system has not fed it. This means that they need to roster build through free agency, but free agents do not want to come because the roster is stale. The issue is a flat circle.
It only takes one free agent to change the narrative but the misses in recent years combined with lackluster performance has been very tough to watch. The Giants need to fix it and they need to fix it right away and that might mean making an irrationally high offer for a player like Carlos Correa in free agency.