Redwood Times (http://www.redwoodtimes.com)

Kurtenbach: With Stanton and Ohtani in sight, the Giants could be on the cusp of a transformational offseason


By Dieter Kurtenbach, Bay Area News Group

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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Credit where it’s due: no matter what goes down this offseason — no matter who is added and who is traded — the San Francisco Giants are being anything but conservative.
Right now, we donít know if Giancarlo Stanton will call AT&T Park home next season.
And we donít know where Shohei Ohtani — the Japanese Babe Ruth — will decide to play when he comes stateside this season.
But the Giants have as good a chance as anyone to land not just one, but both of these game-changing players this offseason — which could well change the course of a franchise that, frankly, looked like it was on the back-end of its bell curve a few months ago.
This fervor towards acquiring two big-name, power-hitting players seems out of character for a Giants team that has put "their guys" and "their way to play" (see: pitching and defense) above all else in recent years.
That worked for a long time — there are three World Series titles behind that way of thinking — but circumstances have clearly changed.
Amid a fly-ball revolution the Giants didn’t participate in, San Francisco lost 98 games in a division with three playoff teams last season. While there might have been some improvements in 2018 — some progression to the mean across the board — last season’s failures made it clear that the old way of doing business in San Francisco wasn’t going to be good enough.
The Giants had to be bold this offseason. They had to be daring. They had to put all of their chips into the center of the table.
They’re doing just that.
I didn’t think they had it in ‘em.
They shook up the coaching staff. That alone wasn’t going to be enough to change this team’s fortunes, and who no one knows what making those moves will do, but they refused to stand with the status quo in the dugout. The accepted the direness of the situation and shook things up.
Then the Giants got in ahead of the curve on Stanton and have remained at the forefront of those trade negotiations with the Marlins. By all accounts, they are not holding back prospects, cash, or effort in their bid to add baseball’s preeminent power hitter and the reigning National League MVP to a lineup that was last in the Majors in home runs (128 — Stanton had 59) last season.
Stanton might prefer to go to his hometown of Los Angeles, but the Giants have done everything in their power to convince him that San Francisco is not only a great place to live and play ball, but also that the team has a plan in place to return to perennial postseason contention.
The prodigious slugger might not be interested — he might not waive his no-trade clause to go to the Giants — but no matter what happens, remember the effort the San Francisco front office put forward to land Stanton. If he doesn’t come to San Francisco, you won’t be able to say it’s because the Giants held something back.
And they’re in on Ohtani too — bidding for him with the same zeal they’re putting into the Stanton pursuit.
Ohtani is one of the most fascinating free agents in recent MLB history. As mentioned before, he’s considered the Japanese Babe Ruth — an excellent power hitter who can likely be slotted into an every-day spot in a Major League outfield (OPS of 1.004 in 2016 at age 21, .942 last season), but also a pitcher with a 101 mile-per-hour fastball and a slider that seems to defy physics.
Don’t let anyone mislead you: Ohtani is the top free agent on the market this offseason, and for a $20 million posting fee, some international bonus pool cash (the Giants have the fourth-largest pool in baseball at $1.835 million) and the cost of a minor-league contract (six years of team control, the first three at the league minimum), one of Ohtani’s seven selected finalists (Dodgers, Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, Padres, Angels, and the Giants) can score a player who would have commanded more than $100 million on the open market.
You don’t have to be a sports economist to know that signing Ohtani would more than pay for itself, and the on-field return on the relatively small investment could be immense.
Just landing one would be an incredible body of work for an offseason. What a coup landing both players would be for this Giants team. Excitement for this team would be off the charts.
Did you see that coming in August in September?
The Giants are going for it. Again, we don’t know how it will all go down, but if you’re a fan, you can’t ask for anything more.