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Alex Pavlovic reports that the Giants weren’t high on Imanaga, will look to add a starter

A little clarity.

Farhan Zaidi speaking at a press conference. Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

When news broke on Tuesday that the Chicago Cubs had reached an agreement with Japanese left-handed pitcher Shōta Imanaga, a collective groan was released across the San Francisco Giants fanbase. That groan only increased when terms of the deal were reported, revealing just how affordable the contract was.

That’s certainly well below the price tag most had pegged for Imanaga, after reports had painted a picture of a deal creeping past $100 million.

So why did the Giants not jump at the opportunity to surpass this offer? Sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. Sometimes a team doesn’t sign a player not because they failed to recruit him or failed to spend enough money; sometimes a team doesn’t sign a player because they didn’t particularly want to.

This MLB offseason has been a masterclass in journalism buffoonery. In the hours leading up to Imanaga’s decision, for instance, the Giants were reported — all by previously reputable people — to be one of five finalists, one of four finalists, one of two finalists, clear favorites, and out of the running. It’s been that way all offseason; remember the reports that Shohei Ohtani would make a decision quickly?

The Giants have been caught in the crosshairs of said irresponsible reporting, but notably absent from the party have been their own beat reporters. Namely their two biggest news-breakers: The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, who has had some much-deserved vacation time around a very intelligent decrease in activity on Elon Musk’s poop platter of an app, and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, who has spent the recent weeks being a new dad.

But Pavlovic took a break from those important duties on Wednesday, and blessed us with our first dose of clarity on the Imanaga situation: turns out the Giants just weren’t very interested.

And there you have it! You can certainly argue that the Giants should have viewed Imanaga as more than a back-end starter, but it’s not hard to see why they do. While Imanaga had divine strikeout and walk numbers in the NPB, he gave up a lot of hits and a huge amount of home runs ... his 1.0 home runs per nine innings ranked 78th out of 100 pitchers in the power-starved league. The result is that Imanaga had a 2.66 ERA in 2023; to use a recent comparison, Kodai Senga had a 1.89 ERA in his final season in Japan.

But while Pavs’ comments clear up the Imanaga situation, the bigger part of his tweet is the parenthetical: the Giants are planning to add to the rotation. A quick look at the Giants roster might make one say, “well, duh” when told that the Giants will upgrade the rotation, but pessimism had crept in lately. Comments and reports following the team’s trade for Robbie Ray seemed to set the table for the team to open the year with Logan Webb, Ross Stripling, and a whole bunch of young, unproven players, and wait anxiously for Ray and Alex Cobb to return.

Thankfully it seems as though that won’t happen. The Giants sure are running out of options though. Blake Snell is the clearest upgrade, though he’s maddeningly inconsistent and asking for an obscene number of dollar bills. Jordan Montgomery is quite good, but he probably tops out at quite good and probably won’t come to the west coast. Marcus Stroman is great for what he is, but “what he is” is a mid-rotation starter with antisemitic tweets. And those are the “after that, it gets grim” candidates.

Perhaps the Giants will make a trade. Perhaps they’ll surprise us and throw a big bag of cash at Snell. Perhaps adding to the rotation means a modest deal for Hyun Jin Ryu or James Paxton.

But help is likely on the way, and that’s cause for at least a tiny little celebration.