Why Johnson believes Oracle Park, not SF, could draw free agents away

Why Johnson believes Oracle Park, not SF, could draw free agents away originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

While the negative narrative surrounding the city of San Francisco has been a go-to excuse for why big MLB free-agent superstars have not signed with the Giants, team chairman Greg Johnson has another explanation.

Speaking to Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show,” Johnson was asked about the team’s attempts to sign big home-run hitters like Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani and why they were not interested in coming to San Francisco.

“We aggressively went after every name you mentioned, I think we had a chance, but I also think their minds were made up before those meetings for a lot of reasons I won’t go into,” Johnson said.

“I don’t think it’s any negative on Farhan [Zaidi] or any negative on the team’s approach, we were aggressive in going after them. We didn’t get them, but remember our park is not viewed as one of the easy parks to hit home runs in so to go get a Bryce Harper or Ohtani or Judge for that matter, I think we’re the fifth-hardest park to hit home runs in Major League Baseball so that makes it a little more difficult to go out there and get the home run hitter.”

Kawakami followed up by asking Johnson what role the negative perception of San Francisco as a city could have had in deterring possible free-agent signings, but Johnson again downplayed any blame on the city itself.

“I don’t think so, it’s really hard to say,” Johnson told Kawakami. “At the end of the day, it’s really more about the ballpark and home runs and ease of hitting home runs and going after those big players.”

Due to the configuration of Oracle Park, it is known as more of a pitcher-friendly ballpark, and home runs are hard to come by. Oracle ranks at the bottom of MLB parks in terms of home runs hit, something big-time hitters surely consider when determining where they will sign. The Los Angeles Dodgers ballpark is known as one of the most hitter-friendly venues in the MLB, consistently ranking atop the list of stadiums with the most home runs.

The irony is that Barry Bonds, the all-time career home run leader, played at Oracle Park during his time with the Giants. Bonds iconically broke the single-season home run record during a home game in San Francisco on Oct 5, 2001.

The Giants have made a push in recent seasons to sign more high-end free agents to return to playoff relevancy. San Francisco has not won a playoff series since the franchise won the 2014 World Series over the Kansas City Royals.

Despite the setbacks this offseason in acquiring a prized free agent, the Giants will continue to look at every opportunity when it comes to signing a power-hitting bat.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast