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Giants embrace a dangerous game by slow-playing the free agency market

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Hunter Pence is likely moving to left field this season. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be manning the Giants’ outfield. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

It’s no secret, the San Francisco Giants are refusing to commit to a full rebuild — which is something fans should appreciate.

The brains of the operation, Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans, continue to be aggressive as they search for a power bat to complement Buster Posey and Evan Longoria. The Giants went all-in trying to bring Giancarlo Stanton to the Bay Area.

They obviously struck out.

Power-hitting lefty Jay Bruce looked like he was destined to play right field at AT&T Park, as both sides were interested in making something happen. That plan didn’t come to fruition after Bruce decided to return and sign a three-year, $39 million contract with the New York Mets. Reportedly, the Giants lowballed the slugger and offered some $10 million less to Bruce.

In the business, that’s called going 0-for-2.

Meanwhile, the team has committed $174 million in salary for the 2018 season — some $23 million under the collective balance tax threshold.

In a way, the Giants are wise to wait everything out as the offseason has slowed to a crawl. J.D. Martinez, whose agent is the quarrelsome Scott Boras, will not budge until he gets his desired six-year contract worth anywhere from $150-200 million.

That’s an insane figure. But, as the Giants wait to see what dominoes fall next, they’re playing a dangerous game.

With Hunter Pence expected to move to left field while a massive hole in center and right field remains, missing out on Bruce isn’t ideal for a team committed to avoiding selling fan favorites from years past.

One thing with Bruce’s contract is it shows that teams aren’t interested in doling out monster six- and seven-year contracts. They’d rather be frugal and shorten the length of contracts. It’s almost as if Major League Baseball clubs are acting like there’s a salary cap or something.

But the Giants can’t afford to go into Spring Training still waiting for the right shoe to drop. Whether it’s free agent Carlos Gonzalez — who could be a bargain after a pedestrian 2017, when he accounted for 14 homers, 57 RBI, a .339 OBP and .762 OPS — they need to find some people who fit.

That’s where San Francisco is right now. As my colleague at 95.7 The Game, Daryle “Guru” Johnson likes to bark, not everybody can shop at Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but you can get lucky at a bargain basement like Ross or Nordstrom Rack and find what you’re looking for at a reasonable price.

If that works out for the Giants, that’s all fine and dandy, but how long can they really wait? Can they hold onto Tyler Beede and Chris Shaw and avoid trading them for Andrew McCutchen, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season?

Evans recently mentioned the Giants remain interested in outfielders who are available via free agency and will sign them even if they have to lose draft picks in the process.

In the meantime, Spring Training is a month away. The clock is ticking above the hot stove, which has been lukewarm at best.

With an incomplete roster and the CBT hovering over their heads, the Giants better navigate their way out the danger zone or risk low attendance when the regular season returns.

Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.

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