5 Reasons Why San Francisco Giants Won’t Target International Free Agents
5 Reasons Why San Francisco Giants Won't Target International Free Agents
Recent reports indicate that Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka will not be made available to big league ball clubs this offseason. General manager Brian Sabean had previously implied the San Francisco Giants would be unlikely to pursue Tanaka if he were to be posted, primarily because of the high ticket price that coincides with acquiring his services.
The Giants are relatively inactive when it comes to international free agent negotiations, although stars-studded phenomenons, like Yasiel Puig and Yu Darvish, have forced Sabean and company to rethink their stance on worldly scouting efforts.
San Francisco was supposedly involved in potential negotiations with Cuban slugger Jose Abreu earlier this offseason, but reportedly never tendered the power-hitting first baseman an offer. The Giants appear apt to testing the waters, but aren’t ready to dive in because they have a concrete core of players locked up for the next few seasons, disabling a full-fledged international recruiting brigade.
San Francisco features vast diversity, though, which could entice international prospects in the future. The Giants are renowned for their excellent ability to effectively market their players, a defining characteristic of a team that has sold out every home game over the course of three-plus seasons.
It remains unlikely for the Giants to gamble on talent overseas, though, regardless of possible player marketability. The following slideshow highlights five reasons why the Giants won’t target international free agents in future offseasons:
Major League Baseball reached a new posting agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball this week, according to USA Today. The deal will impact all future free agent negotiations between Japaneses superstars and MLB franchises. Before an agreement had been reached, MLB teams were able to bid on the rights to acquire a specific player’s services without a ceiling. The newly-signed posting agreement now caps the bidding war at $20 million.
Teams that tie the maximum bid are freely able to begin negotiating with the player in demand. This newly established component of international free agency is expected to drive up the price tag on marquee players, such as pitching sensation Tanaka. The ramifications of extremely competitive contract negotiations will likely deter the Giants from pursuing players like Tanaka in the future in order to avoid economically deficient long-term contracts.
The direct effect of MLB’s new agreement with NPB, which governs Japanese baseball, is an increase in expected player salaries. This rule does not affect negotiations outside of Japan, although it serves as a precedent for the evolving landscape of international free agency.
The Giants have become relatively wary of committing big money to players that could potentially endure substantial struggles over the duration of a long-term contract. The most applicable example for the Giants is former starting pitcher Barry Zito, who earned a whopping seven-year, $126 million deal after sustaining consistent success over seven seasons in the American League.
It’s not uncommon for international superstars to experience some element of talent depreciation upon inking a monstrous contract with a big league ball club. Former Japanese pitching phenomenon Daisuke Matsuzaka is the most prominent example of a highly sought after international free agent that turned sour after making big money.
Matsuzaka was stellar in his first two seasons as a pro, recording a 33-15 record with 355 strikeouts in 61 starts, but virtually fell off the map thereafter. “Dice-K” posted a dismal 4-6 mark with a gigantic 5.76 ERA in just 59.1 innings pitched in 2009. He originally signed a six-year, $52 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, but injuries combined with an inability to consistently get big league hitters out derailed his career.
Big contracts often result in big-time expectations. The growing marketplace of professional baseball has caused big league contracts to become inflated. The corresponding outcome of players receiving unfathomable amounts of money is towering expectations.
International free agents that opt to sign big league contracts are burdened with outrageously impressive numbers overseas that fans typically expect to translate into immediate success in the MLB. Tanaka is the most contemporary example of an international stud that will become immensely scrutinized upon inking a MLB contract.
The 25-year-old Japanese native posted a ridiculous 24-0 record with a microscopic 1.27 ERA in the JPLL last season. His “stuff” is supposedly good enough to dominant big league hitters, causing several MLB teams to inquire about his services, which should become available on the open market in 2014.
Lack of Interest
The Giants appear to lack significant interest in becoming major players in the international marketplace for new talent. San Francisco boasts the brand of fan-driven diversity that would enable the Giants to freely explore the possibility of signing a Japanese superstar, but their front office brass remains content with the constant flux of talent typically available on the homefront.
San Francisco has checked in on a few international free agents as of late, namely Abreu, who signed a lucrative six-year, $68 million deal with the Chicago White Sox earlier in December. The fact that international talent doesn’t always translate into success at the big league level will continue to deter the Giants from seriously considering committing monstrous amounts of money to players that could ultimately fail.