Over the past few seasons two things about the San Francisco Giants organization have been obvious: The franchise has accumulated a great deal of income from two World Series titles, and it doesn’t seem to want to spend said money on free agents.
The baseball world received a glimmer into how much cash the front office has bundled in its pockets when Tim Lincecum signed a two-year, $35 million contract with San Francisco. The overwhelming opinion of this deal is that the Giants overpaid for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, sending the message that the Giants front office is now ready to open its checkbook.
So is the cat out of the bag that the Giants will now become aggressive buyers in the winter? While San Francisco will never become the big-spenders that its rival Los Angeles Dodgers have evolved into, the signing does affect the Giants’ stance on one player in particular: Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka is the latest pitching prospect to come out of the Japanese Baseball League, following in the footsteps of Yu Darvish and Koji Uehara among many.
Tanaka will sign with a Major League Baseball team at some point this winter, but the question remains as to who. Teams reportedly involved are the usual fat-pocketed suspects: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and the Dodgers. The Giants have also reportedly expressed interest in Tanaka, but now that these teams also vying for him know that the Giants are willing to spend will it affect the Giants’ chances?
The answer is yes. Not only did the Giants take one of the potentially biggest names off the market in Lincecum, but they warned other teams interested in Tanaka that they are ready to start a bidding war for the most prized arm in a weak free agent pool. Teams competing to acquire Tanaka won’t want the Giants to walk away with both he and Lincecum.
Sure the Giants retained fan-favorite Lincecum, who could still have magic left in him, but they also may have shot themselves in the foot for a chance at Tanaka. San Francisco will either need to amp its bidding even higher for the Japanese hurler or bow out of the race altogether.
My prediction is that the Giants front office will soon reveal that it will not pursue Tanaka and look elsewhere to fill two more spots in the 2014 rotation. When the millions start piling up, the front office will go back its usual ways and become afraid of spending big dollars. San Francisco will, however, need to sign two more viable starting pitchers — plausible names include Bronson Arroyo and Paul Maholm. Either way, San Francisco will likely overspend to supply their needs.
San Francisco’s involvement in the free agent market shouldn’t go any further than signing two more starters. But any interest in a free agent will cause other teams to up their offer because the word is out that the Giants are ready to spend.
If San Francisco is still afraid to overspend, it better get over the phobia quickly. Other teams now know that the Giants have mountains of money, and they can be beat out on players if they aren’t ready to live lavishly.