Rival Los Angeles Dodgers Forcing San Francisco Giants to Think Hazardously Outside the Box

By Ron Gleeson
Yasiel Puig
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SPORTS

Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu: two members of the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers ball club that would have been still been playing in their home countries had MLB not discovered them.

They are also two huge difference makers and contributors to the historic run the Dodgers have been on — 63-33 in their last 96 games. Los Angeles threw millions of dollars at the players in order to acquire them. They paid $42 million for seven years of Puig’s service in June 2012 without knowing his certain potential. Earlier in the year, the Dodgers tossed Ryu’s old Japanese team Hanwha $25.7 million to just negotiate with the right-hander, later inking him to a six-year, $36 million deal.

Andrew Baggarly, Giants Insider at CSN Bay Area, reported Thursday that due to the Dodgers’ recent successes plucking players out of the international pool the San Francisco Giants will further its efforts in finding the same quality foreign players.

There’s just a slight problem with that idea: buying players from the international pool is an extreme risk-reward action with a steep sticker price for the guys that every organization in baseball is after. Not every international player comes into Major League Baseball and plays like they have their whole lives. Sure, there has been plenty of success — add Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes to the list — but failure has been buckling for organizations that spent too much.

Example A: The Boston Red Sox. Then-GM Theo Epstein and owner John W. Henry spend just over $51 million just to sit down at the table with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was able to squeeze out a six-year, $52 million contract under the aid of agent Scott Boras. “Dice-K,” who was supposed to bring the revered “gyro ball” to the United States, flopped instead into a 50-37 record and 4.52 ERA in six seasons with Boston. Handing out a contract like that to a player the Giants have no idea will succeed or not could be crippling to the franchise.

San Francisco was almost unable to crawl out of the hole it buried itself in after signing Barry Zito to his enormous seven-year, $127 million deal in 2007. If it weren’t for homegrown hurlers like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner contributing to two World Series titles in three years, the Giants front office would still be dodging tomatoes for bringing Zito aboard.

That is the kind of risk the Giants can’t take. What if they dish out another $100 million contract to a guy that doesn’t produce? What will happen then? I’m not sure if there are are more Lincecum’s, or Cain’s, or Bumgarner’s in the farm system to pick up a lousy signing.

To quote the phenomenal television show, Breaking Bad, the Giants should “tread lightly” in the international player pool because for as many treasure chests waiting to be found, there are an equal amount of mines floating and waiting to burst an organization’s season — or several seasons.

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