The San Francisco Giants are still searching for their first marquee free agent signing in ... seriously how long? Even when they were winning World Series, most of that was accomplished with homegrown players and not stars from the open market. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers have cleaned up on the free agent/trade front, and have shown NL West dominance as a result.
They also have the most recent World Series win -- shortened or not. The Giants can only cling to the early 2010s for so long.
San Francisco is a big market, but they've operated like a small market team, especially ever since former Dodgers executive Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations. No Aaron Judge, no Carlos Correa, no Shohei Ohtani, no Yamamoto, and nobody else, really.
But they've been "in" on all of those players! Don't you forget it! (Whatever that means.)
This offseason, though, they were hit with an unfair stigma about the conditions of the city. The "perception" of the rise in crime and homelessness in San Francisco was said to be a factor in free agency for some of the game's biggest names. Whether true or not, it was a fairly major topic of conversation for a short while, thanks in large part to Buster Posey and Rowdy Tellez.
You know which free agent had good things to say about San Fran, though? That would be Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Another dagger to the Giants' heart.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s comments on San Francisco at Dodgers presser will crush Giants
Had the Dodgers not worked expeditiously to get Ohtani signed to a $700 million contract with deferred money, who knows what might've happened. If Ohtani dragged out his free agency longer, it could've very well affected LA's pursuit of Yamamoto, which would've helped the Giants.
The other top suitors in the Yamamoto market were the Mets and Yankees. The Mets made the first $325 million offer, and the Yankees probably presented Yamamoto with the most advantageous offer for his unique situation. If the Giants had the chance to match the $325 million over 12 years (or top it slightly), it sounds like that could've been a path to breaking their free agent drought.
The Giants aren't dead in the water yet, but they're definitely now looking at the less appealing crop of free agents in Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, both of whom will cost a lot of money and not necessarily get San Fran's roster where it needs to be. Yamamoto wouldn't necessarily have, either, but he could've very well been the true long-term building block to set off the much-needed chain reaction.
And so many times they've ended up in this exact situation. They miss out on their desired target and then are left to spend on whatever's left. And then they don't do that in hopes of waiting for the next best thing the following offseason.
Rinse and repeat.