Good morning, baseball fans.
Yesterday, the San Francisco Giants did what they do best: coming in second on a huge free agency signing. After months of speculation, and days of growing confidence, all of it was dashed when Aaron Judge opted to stay with the New York Yankees for the same deal the Giants were reportedly offering him to join the team he grew up rooting for.
I could recite the list of names the Giants have come just short on over the years, but you already know them and are likely muttering them to yourself when you go to sleep at night like it’s Arya Stark’s hit list.
But it’s not just the recent disappointments. The Giants have a spending problem. They are one of the most financially successful franchises in MLB, and yet you’d never know it from their payroll. Or the size of their free agent contracts.
Sure, we hear about all of these huge offers they’ve extended over the years only to fall just short, but this from Jeff Young was a bit of a stark reminder of their lack of success, if not interest, in signing top-tier talent:
Mitch Haniger's $43.5M contract is the second-largest deal the Giants have handed out to a free-agent position player since Barry Bonds signed a 7-year, $43.5M deal way back in 1992.— Jeff Young (@BaseballJeff1) December 7, 2022
The largest since then was a 5-year, $60M contract for Aaron Rowand.
If I were just paying attention to baseball for the first time, I’d have no problem giving the front office the benefit of the doubt and believing that they did everything they could to get Aaron Judge. Because I think they probably did, in this case. And very likely got used and manipulated in the process to get the Yankees to match.
But it’s hard not to be a little jaded and cynical at this point and feel like, in general, they’re really only putting in enough effort to try to convince the fans that they tried, before going back to looking for diamonds in the rough, out of whom they might be able to get a year or two of career resurgence before not signing them again either.
All while hoping to catch the same, impossible to replicate, lightning in a bottle that they had in 2021. And, you know, while spending as little money as possible.
I think 2022 was a pretty clear indication that that’s not a sustainable way to have a successful, playoff contending team.
An 81-81 team can’t just be competitive in the offseason, they’ve got to be gutsier than the better teams and willing to overspend on deals that won’t look great in, say, six or seven years.
Look at the San Diego Padres, who were actually a playoff team, and reportedly weren’t even in talks with Judge but were throwing out a $400 million contract offer, because that’s what you do when it’s freaking Aaron Judge.
A player like that isn’t just a great talent to have, but also an icon and a superstar, something the Giants are sorely lacking as the last of the players from the championship era start to retire.
Growing up and into my early adulthood, I watched some of the worst baseball and had the best time in a packed ballpark because of Barry Bonds. Do I remember the final score of any of those games or what the team’s record was in those seasons? Absolutely not. But I remember every single Bonds at bat and looked forward to going to as many games as I could.
And obviously it’s still early in the offseason, and anything could still happen. But so far, well, this offseason isn’t giving Giants fans much of anything to look forward to. And they’re right to feel annoyed about that. At least for right now.
Unrelatedly, to all of our long term community members, I leave you with this, as a treat.
Hung out with garbanzo24 tonight. All the old McC heads, this content is for you. pic.twitter.com/4SR2Ecie8l— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) December 8, 2022