Giants exit Winter Meetings as 'players at the top of the market'

December 6th, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With the free-agent market largely at a standstill amid the ongoing chase for two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the Giants departed the Winter Meetings on Wednesday without checking any boxes on their offseason shopping list.

While no transactions ultimately came together for the Giants this week, there’s a sense that the action could pick up soon, as Ohtani is reportedly “days away” from making a decision. San Francisco is believed to be among the finalists for his services along with the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Angels and Cubs, but the club remains active on other fronts as it continues its search for impact talent this winter.

“It's no secret that we're players at the top of the market,” manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday. “It’s a little different from what I'm used to in the past, but it's exciting. We'll see what plays out, but there’s a lot going on right now.”


1. Star power
Given their recent history of failed free-agent pursuits, the Giants recognize that they need to add some sizzle to their roster and finally land a big name who can supplement the young core of players that began to matriculate to the Majors in 2023. Signing Ohtani would be the ideal outcome, though the Giants could also make a run at elite free agents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, Matt Chapman or Jung Hoo Lee.

“San Francisco's a star-power town,” Melvin said. “So I think we need some players, one, two or whatever, that the fans really identify with. Whether it was the Willie Mays days, the Barry Bonds days, Buster Posey, star power is important to San Francisco.”

2. Starting pitching
The Giants are eyeing another frontline starter who can serve as a co-ace with Logan Webb, so they’re expected to be in the mix for Yamamoto, the Orix Buffaloes' ace who is likely to land the biggest contract of any free-agent pitcher this winter. Yamamoto is being hotly pursued by virtually every big-market team, including the Mets, whose deep-pocketed owner, Steve Cohen, reportedly traveled to Japan to meet with the star right-hander last week.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made a similar trek to the Far East in October, when he watched Yamamoto pitch in an NPB playoff game at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka.

“It's really good,” Melvin said. “You watch the video and you can see why he puts up the numbers that he does. It looks like he's quite the competitor too. The split, swing-and-miss, the heaters, upper 90s, curveball, slow you down, speed you up. He's 25 years old.

“There are a lot of teams that are going to be in on him. He's one of those guys at the top of the market here, and probably until some of these guys sign, there's probably not going to be a lot of movement. He's one of the top guys in the marketplace, and whoever gets him's going to be lucky to have him.”

3. Center field
Determined to improve their defense and athleticism, the Giants also covet upgrades in center field, with Bellinger, Lee and Kevin Kiermaier among the options available on the free-agent market. Zaidi knows Bellinger well from his time with the Dodgers, though San Francisco is also viewed as a potential suitor for Lee, a former KBO MVP who was posted by the Kiwoom Heroes earlier this week.

The Giants made no selections during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, though they took right-hander and shortstop from the Rockies and Pirates, respectively, during the first two rounds of the Minor League phase.

San Francisco also lost three prospects in the Minor League phase, with second baseman Hayden Cantrelle going to the Cubs, third baseman Sean Roby landing with the Marlins and center fielder PJ Hilson being scooped up by the Pirates.

“It seems like we’re building towards some things happening in the next week or two. But it’s hard to say. We sort of do the work we can on the players we’re interested in, but agents and players kind of control the cadence of if and when they’re willing to roll up their sleeves.” -- Zaidi