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Buster Posey says San Francisco’s drug and crime issues thwarted Giants’ attempt to sign Ohtani

Man in blue blazer speaks in microphone in front of black backdrop advertising the Giants baseball team and Oracle Park
Buster Posey, who joined the San Francisco Giants' ownership group last year, said players and their wives feel uncomfortable about the state of the city. | Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Former San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey struck a nerve after he suggested in an interview on Tuesday that the city's drug crisis and crime hindered the team's pursuit of Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani.

Ohtani signed a record 10-year $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers this week after much fanfare over where the two-time American League Most Valuable Player would end up. Among those vying for the star hitter and pitcher included the SF Giants, who reportedly offered Ohtani a nearly identical deal.

But, alas, Ohtani, who spent six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, chose to stay in Southern California—and signed with San Francisco's rival. Now Posey, a member of the Giants' ownership group, says that the problems on the city's streets have made it difficult for the team to attract top free agents like Ohtani.

"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 told the Athletic. "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."

A baseball player in a red cap and red sweatshirt looks past his right shoulder
Shohei Ohtani's 10-year $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers makes him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball. | Source: Ashley Landis/AP

READ MORE: San Francisco’s Drug Crisis Crackdown Makes More Than 1,700 Arrests in 6 Months

The Athletic reported that Posey said perception affected the Giants' attempts to sign Ohtani. Though Ohtani never publicly expressed concerns about the city, Posey told the sports news outlet, "There was some reservation with the state of the city," within his circle.

The same issues were a factor in the failed efforts to bring Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki to San Francisco two years ago, according to the Athletic.

Posey's comments have caused a stir on social media, with people questioning why the player turned owner would put this bad energy out there—and has he been "doom-loop pilled"?

But also, is this really a problem for star professional athletes, many of whom can afford to live in the Bay Area's wealthy suburban enclaves?

Meanwhile, mayoral hopeful and Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie used the comments to bolster his argument for a change at City Hall, saying "failed leadership" is causing people who work and live in San Francisco "to question whether or not they want to be here."

"It's time to bring in the replacements," Lurie said in a video posted to X. We need new leadership, and with new leadership, the San Francisco comeback will begin."

Whatever Posey's reason for airing these concerns, Giants CEO and president Larry Baer has been working to fight against this exact perception of San Francisco. Baer, a San Francisco native, is a co-chair of Advance SF, the group behind the recent marketing campaign aimed at boosting the city's image. Baer did not immediately respond to The Standard's request for comment Wednesday.

In October, the baseball executive told SFGate the city's bad reputation is "way overstated."

"To the extent that anybody thinks that’s true, if a player might think that, it’s because of this narrative that’s out there that we need to debunk and defeat," Baer said.