Buster Posey offers heartfelt insight on Giants’ Shohei Ohtani pursuit – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

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The Giants came up short in their attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani, but Buster Posey believes the team’s top brass did everything they could in their pursuit of the two-way MLB superstar.

San Francisco’s former star catcher, who now is part of the team’s ownership group, told The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly in an exclusive interview that the Giants currently are in a “free-agent slump” after losing Ohtani to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But he has faith the franchise can turn things around.

Posey, along with new Giants manager Bob Melvin, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and owner Greg Johnson, met with Ohtani at Oracle Park on Dec. 2 before the Japanese talent made his free-agency decision. Ohtani had a chance to be something special to the city of San Francisco, Posey shared with Baggarly of his message to the star, but despite the Giants agreeing to a similar deal, Ohtani ultimately decided to stay in Southern California on an unusual 10-year, $700 million Dodgers contract.

“I just wanted him to understand my level of love for the San Francisco Giants and city of San Francisco and for him to understand how much I’ve come to appreciate the history here and wanting him to be a part of that history going forward,” Posey told Baggarly. “It was such a unique opportunity. I just feel that him coming to the Giants could have been transformative, obviously for the baseball team but it also would’ve given the city a boost that we’ve all been looking for.”

Posey told Baggarly he doesn’t believe the Giants could have done anything more with their Ohtani pitch, and Zaidi on Tuesday told reporters the team felt the decision came down to geography. In Posey’s opinion, the city of San Francisco’s reputation might have played a role in things.

“Something I think is noteworthy, something that unfortunately keeps popping up from players and even the players’ wives is there’s a bit of an uneasiness with the city itself, as far as the state of the city, with crime, with drugs,” Posey explained to Baggarly. “Whether that’s all completely fair or not, perception is reality. It’s a frustrating cycle, I think, and not just with baseball. Baseball is secondary to life and the important things in life. But as far as a free-agent pursuit goes, I have seen that it does affect things.”

The three-time World Series champion went on to tell Baggarly he loves the Bay Area, and that he and his family, who recently moved back after a year in Georgia, share a “deep bond” with the region. Just as he believes the Giants eventually will land the superstar they’ve been searching for in free agency, Posey sees brighter days ahead for the city.

“I’m not going to pretend I know more than I do about what the turnaround is going to look like, but things sometimes can happen quicker than we think,” Posey told Baggarly. “COVID is a perfect example of that where it affected a lot of things. And I think it can happen in the opposite direction in a positive way as well.”

This was the second time Posey has been in the room as the Giants made their free-agency pitch to Ohtani, as San Francisco sought his services after the 2017 MLB season before he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. When Posey heard Ohtani had decided on the Dodgers this time around, he told Baggarly the news was “tough” and left him feeling “really bummed.”

Posey knows homegrown talent can win championships, as the Giants proved during his tenure in 2010, 2012 and 2014. It doesn’t take the sting out of Ohtani’s decision, though, even if San Francisco gave the pursuit its all.

And what better way for Posey to sum up that pain than with a perfect baseball analogy?

“I’ve thought about it since the news came out,” Posey said when Baggarly asked if the Giants could have done anything more. “I really don’t think so. It’s different but similar to playing the game: I always wanted to feel when you’re done, win or lose, that you put it out there. I really feel like we did.

“I also gave this analogy to somebody: Throughout my career, I would’ve rather had three broken-bat hits in a game than three lineouts at somebody. For people to say, ‘Well, you did everything you could. You hit the ball on the nose.’ It’s like, yeah, but ultimately you want results. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result and so, you know, we’ll keep pushing.”

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