The Giants officially introduced their newest addition, Jung Hoo Lee, on Friday, and the highly coveted South Korean outfielder made it clear he's excited to play in San Francisco.
While that might seem like an obvious sentiment from someone who just signed with the team, Lee chose the Giants in free agency. His enthusiasm comes amid whispers about the city of San Francisco's perceived reputation and how it could be impacting the team's ability to sign stars.
Lee's agent, Scott Boras, is pushing back against that notion.
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“Players talk about whether ownership is willing to spend to win,” Boras told the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea after Lee's introductory press conference. “Will they pay me my value? What do they have in the minor leagues that will make them a consistent winner? They’re focused on baseball. There are issues including homelessness near the ballpark in San Diego, in downtown L.A.
“To identify that only with San Francisco is really unfair. In any of the major cities, we’ve got issues. Chicago, New York, wherever. The players’ major focus is the structure of the organization and winning and competing. The biggest issue the Giants have is the fact that the Dodgers are getting better. Players want to know if they come here, will they be able to compete with the Dodgers? And now Arizona. That’s the real major question that San Francisco has to answer.”
Boras is known as a super agent for MLB players, so it's safe to say he knows what goes through their minds when it comes to playing for San Francisco. And any issues with crime or homelessness, seen in other major U.S. cities as well, seem to be low on the list.
While the idea has been floated before, how the state of the city is viewed by outsiders -- fairly or not -- came up again this week after the Giants lost out on two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Former Giants catcher Buster Posey made headlines in the aftermath for his comments on how MLB free agents -- not himself -- possibly view San Francisco, and how that perception might hinder the organization's ability to recruit players.
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Boras isn't the first high-profile person in sports to come to San Francisco's defense. Giants ace Logan Webb has been vocal with his support of the city on social media, as has former outfielder Hunter Pence, while Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that Golden State hasn't run into any issues of its own when recruiting free agents to play in the Bay.
"It's tough," Kerr told 95.7 The Game. "It's tough on the city that we have to deal with his reputation, but again, to me, it's more just political B.S. than reality."
It's clear Lee had no qualms with the city of San Francisco as he signed a six-year, $113 million contract with the Giants. And now that one big addition is out of the way, the Giants certainly hope more free agents have the same outlook as their newest outfielder.
“This is a Goliath division,” Boras told Shea. “San Francisco has to be a Goliath to compete in it.”