The Giants have long been expected to be one of the winter’s more aggressive teams after missing out on megadeals for stars Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa last offseason. While the club was still active on last year’s free agent market, deals for lower-profile players like Taylor Rogers, Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger didn’t save San Francisco from a 79-83 campaign that ended with a fourth place finish in the NL West this year. As president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and his front office looks to turn things around ahead of the 2024 season, the club has been connected to plenty of top players this offseason, ranging from star outfielders Cody Bellinger and Juan Soto to reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell to even two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.
One such star the Giants are known to have interest in is NPB right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who Zaidi himself noted the club has scouted extensively in the run-up to his posting late last month. Today, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle provided an update on the club’s interest in Yamamoto, who ranked as the #3 free agent in this year’s edition of MLBTR’s annual top 50 free agents list. Per Slusser, other teams interested in Yamamoto believe that the Giants “have an edge” in the sweepstakes for his services. Yamamoto figures to be among the most sought-after free agents this winter, with reports indicating that nearly half the league has interest in the 25-year-old righty. The Mets and Yankees, in particular, have been connected to Yamamoto heavily to this point in the offseason.
Even if San Francisco does have a leg up in the Yamamoto sweepstakes, a signing would surely require a major financial outlay. The righty is widely expected to secure the largest deal of any starting pitcher on the market this winter besides Ohtani; MLBTR has projected him for a nine-year, $225MM deal that would only be surpassed by the guarantees secured by Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg among free agent starters. That shouldn’t be a problem for San Francisco, which reportedly offered Judge a deal in the $360MM range last offseason before 2022’s AL MVP ultimately returned to the Yankees.
More from MLB’s West divisions…
- The Angels have made significant headway in assembling their 2024 coaching staff under new manager Ron Washington in recent weeks, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggests the club previously offered both former Pirates and Rockies manager Clint Hurdle as well as 21-year MLB veteran LaTroy Hawkins roles on Washington’s staff; Hurdle was offered a job as Washington’s bench coach while Hawkins was offered the bullpen coach role. Nightengale goes on to note both men are expected to retain their current roles as special assistants to the front offices in Colorado and Minnesota, respectively. That’s hardly a surprise, as the club has reportedly hired Steve Karsay as the new bullpen coach in Anaheim while bench coach Ray Montgomery will remain in that role for a third season in 2024.
- The Rangers were open to moving right-handed prospect Jack Leiter at the trade deadline this summer in the right deal for pitching, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The second-overall pick of the 2021 draft was initially expected to be a fast-rising arm who could impact the big league club shortly after being drafted, but the righty has struggled to this point in his professional career. While Grant notes that Leiter made some strides last season, he’s not yet ready to contribute in the majors and could be part of the return for a front-of-the-rotation arm, should Texas look to the trade market in their search for rotation upgrades this winter. While Leiter has a career 5.37 ERA across two minor league seasons, the 23-year-old ended the 2023 campaign on a relative high note with a 3.31 ERA and a 39.7% strikeout rate in his final four starts at the Double-A level.