The SF Giants appear to be prioritizing some of the best names on the market. According to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network, the Giants are focusing on Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto "above all other options."
MLB insider speculates that the SF Giants are prioritizing two free agents "above all other options"
Landing either of the free agents would be a colossal shift for the Giants' luck in free agency. They have not landed the top-of-the-market option in decades, so adding either one would not only change the outlook of the 2024 roster but would help in making San Francisco a desirable destination for future free agents.
Of course, prioritizing the best options in free agency is one thing. The Giants still need to get either Ohtani or Yamamoto to sign a contract. This would put them in the unusual position of winning a bidding war.
It will not come cheap. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Ohtani will land a 12-year, $528 million pact, whereas Yamamoto could earn a contract in the neighborhood of nine years and $225 million.
The Giants have been connected to the star NPB pitcher early and often this offseason, but Ohtani talks have been nearly silent. That is how Ohtani and his representatives prefer to negotiate, so prospective teams have been extremely tight-lipped in their recruiting. If a team's negotiations are made public, it could hurt their chances of landing the star two-way player.
Perhaps, Morosi's rumor could hurt the Giants' chances, but what he said is more about how the front office plans to operate. It has been known for quite some time that the Giants would be in the mix for both.
Ohtani is coming off of an incredible 2023 campaign in which he posted a .304/.412/.654 line (184 OPS+) with 44 home runs, 95 RBI, and 102 runs in 599 plate appearances. This includes a 3.14 ERA on the mound in 23 starts.
However, Ohtani is not expected to pitch in 2024 after undergoing elbow surgery at the end of the 2023 season. He is expected to be back on the mound in 2025.
On the other hand, Yamamoto completed a similarly impressive 2023 season in which he tallied a 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and a 6.29 SO/W ratio in 24 NPB starts with the Orix Buffaloes. Incredibly, he yielded just two home runs across 171 innings.
The Buffaloes posted the right-handed pitcher last week, opening up a 45-day negotiating window. The team that eventually signs him will owe Orix a substantial posting fee.