I think it is fair to say that no one truly knows what is going on with the SF Giants' pursuit of NPB pitcher Shōta Imanaga. Jon Heyman of the New York Post added to the confusion On Tuesday morning by speculating that the Giants are not among the finalists for Imanaga.
MLB insider adds confusion to SF Giants' pursuit of Shōta Imanaga
Of course, this came just less than a day after Mark Feinsand of MLB.Com reported that the Giants might be emerging as a favorite for Imanaga. Over the weekend, Jim Bowden of The Athletic said that the Giants were not prioritizing the lefty pitcher following the Robbie Ray trade.
We would like to start off by apologizing for any type of confusion that comes from reading the site. We report on rumors as they come in and filter out any that seem off with how the team is operating. At the end of the day, rumors are just that.
This has been a bizarre scenario in which both sides of the spectrum regarding the Giants' interest in Imanaga has been discussed in the last 48 hours. It is usually not that extreme, but I think this highlights that no one truly knows how the Giants are operating with respect to Imanaga.
The front office has confirmed that they have expressed interest in the NPB pitcher this winter and anything not coming from it is probably just speculation. Perhaps, the best read on the situation since the Ray trade has been Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, who suggested that the Giants might not be shopping at the top of the market following the move. Imanaga would qualify as one of the remaining top-of-the-market starting pitchers available.
If Heyman's word is accurate, I would not read this as a situation where the Giants missed out on yet another player. Rather, they had genuine interest but they chose to bow out following the Ray trade and now they are looking closer to the middle of the starting-pitching market. That has been my general sense since they traded for Ray.
Some may not see Ray as a frontline starter, but he is only two years removed from earning the AL Cy Young award with the Toronto Blue Jays. Importantly, and in all likelihood, he will be under contract for the next three seasons with a Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) hit of $23 million per season. That is typically the amount that is allocated to a frontline starter.
They should be able to add another starting pitcher. Perhaps, not one who will cost them $23 million per season, but still a substantial amount. The Giants took on some risk with Ray for a front office that has been risk-averse in recent seasons. There is less long-term risk for a pitcher on a three-year deal compared to a five-year deal. It is a significant amount to invest but it will be off of the books before you know it.
In most cases, the front office sees long-term contracts for pitchers as too risky. Is that the right strategy? That is up for debate, but I just do not think they had an appetite for adding Ray and the risk that comes with adding another pitcher on a long-term deal like the one Imanaga is seeking.
The only thing known with the Imanaga sweepstakes so far is that his posting window runs through January 11, 2024. One way or the other, we will have an answer on his contract status soo enough,