The Giants didn’t land two-way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Ohtani signed a historic 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that included unprecedented extensions that stunned the MLB world when details emerged Monday.
After striking out on Ohtani, the Giants reportedly agreed to a six-year, $113 million contract with Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee on Tuesday. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi spoke with reporters on a conference call, and while Lee could not discuss the reported move because the deal was not official, he provided a detailed timeline for Ohtani’s pursuit. .
Zaidi revealed that Ohtani’s camp sought preliminary offers early in the season in what would have been “the biggest contract in major league history” in an attempt to show how aggressive and interested the Giants were in him. Zaidi said Ohtani’s camp later took some time to weigh the initial offers.
Zaidi also confirmed rumors that the Giants hosted Ohtani during his Dec. 2 visit to Oracle Park.
“The whole time, obviously, we were really excited for them to come to San Francisco and meet some of us, meet in person and talk about things,” Zaidi said. “It happened last weekend before the winter meetings and we thought it was a really useful meeting with the player’s representative. A very small group but we addressed some of the concerns and we addressed what we thought was our long-term plan. , we’re very positive and those meetings were very useful, We felt a lot better about things after that.”
Zaidi shared that during the MLB Winter Meetings, Ohtani’s camp proposed a contract structure similar to the final deal with the Dodgers to all remaining teams.
“What they proposed, conceptually, was not some kind of formal offer to us, but it looks like the perfect deal that they finalized,” Zaidi said. “It was definitely an unusual deal and we definitely understood the benefits for the player but also for the team. Again it was a departure from our previous offer, but we thought it was something we could manage. So, we changed it quickly. We came around and said we’d agree to it.
The Giants were on board with everything Ohtani’s camp demanded, ultimately saying it was now in the player’s hands, with Ohtani taking his time deciding which offer to accept as financial negotiations ended. Zaidi and the Giants asked Ohtani’s camp if there was anything they could do to improve their position, and after their three contract offers, they realized each team’s proposal was in the same range.
Zaidi admitted that San Francisco was confident in its offer, but doubt began to creep in because of Ohtani’s desire to stay in Southern California.
“I think at some point we felt pretty good about our chances,” Zaidi said. “In other places, as you always do, you have some questions or doubts because you know it’s very competitive.
“One thing — in our direct conversations with Blair and his agent but also in our kind of background work, talking to people through the industry — it seemed to be geographically significant. It wasn’t an absolute imperative or a deal. -Breaker, obviously, gave a bunch of interested teams. In Southern California We realized there was a desire to stay, and we knew it would be a challenge for us.”
The Giants submitted their final offer, and after 24 hours without a resolution, it was clear Ohtani and his camp were headed in a different direction.
Even if the Giants don’t come away with Ohtani, Zaidi made it clear that the organization — top to bottom — is committed to doing everything it can to land the two-time AL MVP.
“I wanted to release that line a little bit,” Zaidi said. “One, to show the level of commitment we had from our franchise team in this venture, in fact, every financial goal and request from their camp was met very quickly.
“Two, there were ways to clarify any other questions about the deadline, what might have happened and the integrity of our effort with full transparency and the fact that we pulled a lot of levers to try to get things done. We were left behind based on player preference — geography, especially — at the end of the day, it comes down to a free agency.” Choice for a player, and a generation of players when you’re talking about is going to have great choices and check every box he’s looking for.”
The Giants — like the previous superstar free-agent pursuit — were there again in the end and eventually took an offer similar to the player’s signing. Now, with their pursuit of Ohtani in the rearview mirror, Zaidi and Co. They will continue to look for upgrades to a roster they hope will compete for a playoff spot in 2024.