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The Giants need to swing for the fences in free agency

If they’re to compete in 2019, they need to be ready to spend.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, I did something dumb.

It was late. The Giants and Dodgers were about to begin the eighth inning. I took advantage of the commercial break to transfer the golden, divinely aromatic chicken stock that I’d simmered all day into sealable container.

I chose a glass container. It shattered from the heat, and a half-gallon of boiling chicken stock waterfalled onto my feet.

After the Giants started the series with two exciting wins, my mind, always eagerly playing hide and seek with any and all reasons for optimism, began to wander. Maybe defeating their rivals would give them a boost of energy. Maybe close wins would inspire confidence. They had two bad teams coming up next, where might they be this time next week?

And so I sat in the bathtub. Six containers of ice briskly massaged my second degree burns. A Sierra Nevada Pale Ale dulled the pain. The ninth inning played out before me on my laptop, placed on top of the toilet seat.

And then the tenth inning.

And then the eleventh inning, and with it, the loss.

I went to bed.

Wednesday’s loss was more than just salt on my personal wounds. It was a reminder that this team is blatantly average, and every time they flirt with excitement and quality, mediocrity slaps them - and us - firmly across the face.

Of course they lost. Of course they entered Cincinnati after a defeat, rather than a triumphant sweep of their rivals. Of course the Reds destroyed them in all three games, swiftly sweeping away any memory of Monday and Tuesday.

And now, even the most starry-eyed dreamer must face the concreteness of the Giants tepidity. This team simply isn’t good enough.

Unless something changes, they won’t be good enough next year, either. This isn’t an inverse, demonic flash in the pan. The Giants haven’t been a good team since the early parts of the 2016 season.

There are reasons to be optimistic, of course. The team should have better luck with injuries next year, and Madison Bumgarner will likely play a full season, and perhaps Joe Panik and Evan Longoria will more closely resemble quality players than AAA mainstays. Austin Slater and Steven Duggar and Dereck Rodriguez may continue their great play, but in larger samples.

But if all that happens, 2019 will merely be 2018 with much nicer packaging. When you’re a kid (or in my case, an adult), you realize you can’t wrap a present to save your soul, so your mother does it for you, and the corners are crisp, the bow flowing, the seams invisible; that will be the 2019 Giants. Easier on the eyes, yes, but still wrapping the same lackluster object.

Here’s what we know:

- The Giants will not trade their core players.
- The Giants will not commit to a rebuild.
- The Giants’ farm is not going to save them right now.
- The Giants are mediocrity personified.

Here’s what we don’t know:

- How honest the Giants’ self-awareness is.

The 2019 season will come down to one simple thing. Do the Giants realize that they’re not good enough? If they don’t, then they’ll run it back, and we’ll hear the same things we heard this spring.

But if they do, they’ll realize something vital. They can’t afford to do anything but go all-in this winter. They have the money. They have the reset tax penalty. And they have a core that, while relentlessly pedestrian, presents a strong foundation on which to build something bigger.

The just need to commit to building something bigger. That means throwing all the money at Bryce Harper, and if someone throws more money, smash open the piggy bank. It means going all-in on Manny Machado, and not thinking about the fact that they already have a small fortune committed to a third baseman.

The beauty of a .500 team is that they’re one big, expensive offseason away from being a good team. But in order to have that offseason, they need honest reflection that arrives at realizing the team is simply not good enough.

They can’t afford anything else.