Why Bob Melvin Will Not Help the SF Giants land Shohei Ohtani

Some have speculated that the SF Giants have a better chance of signing free agent superstar Shohei Ohtani thanks to hiring Bob Melvin. This thinking is misguided.
Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

With the SF Giants making it official that Bob Melvin is going to be their next manager, many hope he will bring more free agents to San Francisco, including a certain two-way star. However, that hope might be misplaced.

Why Bob Melvin Will Not Help the SF Giants land Shohei Ohtani

After the SF Giants officially hired Bob Melvin, one of the most prominent narratives was that Melvin would be a better recruiter in free agency and would make free agents more likely to sign with the Giants. 

Perhaps this is because of reporting that Gabe Kapler, in his dealings with potential free agent signings, was somewhat awkward or not as gregarious as one needs to be to land a big fish in free agency. Perhaps it is simply because Melvin is so respected that free agents would be more willing and excited to play for him. 

There is also a prominent narrative that Melvin has some sort of special relationship with players from the Pacific rim. At his introductory press conference, Melvin rattled a number of players from that area he has managed over the course of his career, from Ichiro Suzuki to Yu Darvish

Naturally, the Giants plan to be in the mix for Shohei Ohtani. That was the case before hiring Melvin, but will he play a role in helping San Francisco land a star player like Ohtani?

I doubt I am the only Giants fans who is more than a little skeptical about this narrative taking hold. 

In the grand scheme of things, I doubt that managers are anywhere near the highest determinant in where a free agent signs. Familiarity helps, but plenty of other factors are superior in a player making a final decision. Perhaps if a player has had a positive relationship with that manager in the past then it could be more of a factor. Perhaps hiring Melvin as manager convinces Sean Manaea to stay with the Giants or makes the team more alluring to Matt Chapman given both players played for Melvin in Oakland. 

But I am much more skeptical that Melvin can become a recruiting force for any player, including Ohtani, because it starts with ownership.

For a player like Ohtani, if he wants to play for a winner then he will not go to the Giants unless they make another big splash before signing him to prove that they are serious about winning.

And if Ohtani wants to play for whatever team will pay him the most, that has rarely been the Giants in free agency. This narrative was further reinforced by Greg Johnson’s “break even” comments during Melvin's introductory press conference when he was asked about the team's desire to surpass the luxury tax.

This is not necessarily meant to be negative, but rather, to set realistic expectations for what the Giants might do this offseason. They have rarely been the biggest spender in free agency and struggled to lure top free agents even when Bruce Bochy was at the helm. Will Melvin change that narrative?

Time will tell, but I believe that Bob Melvin is not the free agent silver bullet that some think he will be for the SF Giants.