San Francisco Giants baseball is typically synonymous with good pitching and sound defense. That was not entirely the case in 2023, however. The team ranked 11th in ERA, but did itself no favors with an MLB-worst 117 errors. A bottom-tier offense exacerbated their identity crisis. And yet, San Fran was above .500 and still in the hunt for a postseason berth in mid-September.

Admittedly, a late collapse and 79-83 final record tarnishes that positive outlook quite a bit, but the point remains. With limited star power, a largely unreliable offense and an uneven defense, the Giants were still only five games removed from the third National League Wild Card slot. There are two ways to interpret their situation.

They can be patient and hope that their young position players come of age, or the organization can trust that it is only one superstar away from playing October baseball. Ownership should opt for the second, bolder path. Especially because the aforementioned superstar can have a transcendent impact on the franchise and fan base.

Every big-market team should have Shohei Ohtani firmly on its radar, but we are going to explain why the Giants must be the one to blow the bank on this one-of-a-kind talent in MLB free agency.

Shohei Ohtani can bring everything together for the Giants

There are two factors believed to be the primary motivations for the 29-year-old dual threat, aside from a record-breaking contract. Ohtani wants to make the playoffs, and he might be inclined to stay on the West Coast. My basic geography knowledge tells me that San Fran checks off the second box, but would the roster be well-rounded enough to stand out in a crowded NL that is only getting more competitive?

If the Giants sign Ohtani this offseason, then the answer should be “yes.” His 2024 hiatus from pitching (underwent elbow surgery in September) is not going to severely hamper their already-competent starting rotation. But the Japanese slugger can be a tremendous boost to the thin lineup.

The club ranked 28th in batting average (.235), 19th in home runs (174) and 26th in OPS (.695). Ohtani can vastly improve each of those statistical categories. He is expected to hit at full capacity by Opening Day of 2024, which gives general manager Farhan Zaidi even more incentive to heavily pursue the future two-time MVP this winter. Management's interest level should not even be a question.

Though, there might be cause for concern on the part of Shohei Ohtani. He endured endless calamity and futility while playing for the Los Angeles Angels these past six years. The Giants have not exactly been a pillar of consistency either since they won their last World Series championship in 2014, making the postseason just twice in that span.

They must convince the hitting/pitching extraordinaire that players like Logan Webb, Patrick Bailey and Camilo Doval can inch them closer to those glory days. Ohtani needs to believe he is the X-factor and not the savior, otherwise a bad case of deja vu is sure to set in before any contract is signed.

Giants' must strike gold this free agency

Giants' Farhan Zaidi cannot come away empty-handed in free agency

There are already the makings of a successful baseball team in Oracle Park. 107-win seasons do not just happen by accident. San Francisco's past fundamental soundness can be unearthed and re-established under three-time Manager of the year Bob Melvin. He is the perfect voice to lead this clubhouse. And Shohei Ohtani is the perfect star to elevate it.

Shotime's historic talent– posted a season for the ages despite getting injured- and a Melvin-managed Giants squad can form a lethal combination in the years to come. Farhan Zaidi needs to be more motivated than ever to win MLB free agency.

And that should not be a problem, especially when taking account of the front office's recent misfires. No one can blame Zaidi for rightly passing on Carlos Correa after his failed physical, and Aaron Judge was always a pipe dream. But Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto are not top offseason additions in the year 2023.

Those deals have not ruined the franchise, but it is imperative Zaidi allocates the organization's resources for the right guys. Ohtani is a rare no-brainer who supersedes the injury questions that come with him. Angels fans know there is a distinct possibility their hero goes down the freeway to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are resigned to that cruel fate, but the Giants cannot merely accept that scenario.

Playing against Ohtani 13 times a year would be a painful reminder that they are just a baseball team in California, not The Baseball Team in California. Yes, the Dodgers lack the amount of recent championship success the Bay Area enjoyed last decade, but they consistently command the national spotlight.

The Giants have the potential to capture the accolades and the status by signing Shohei Ohtani. Why not have it all?