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Why the San Francisco Giants could be MLB's biggest offseason winner -- next winter

AP Photo/Tony Avelar

The last time a team other than the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West, LeBron James had just won his first NBA title, in 2012. Since then, L.A. has dominated the division, and won the 2020 World Series two months ago. And if the Dodgers are the best team in the league, a rival official mused the other day, you could make a reasonable case that the San Diego Padres are the second-best team.

That doesn't leave a lot of competitive oxygen at the top of the division, and presumably, that reality is informing the decision-makers in the Giants' organization, who seem intent on another year of modest remodeling, as well as taking another step toward payroll reconstruction. There are big names available who might fit San Francisco now, from George Springer to Trevor Bauer, but sources say it's likely the Giants will pass on the high-end free agents and look for bargains.

The Giants appear incredibly well-positioned, however, to be extremely aggressive after the next collective bargaining agreement is forged, whether that's next winter or months later -- and perhaps take advantage of one of the best free-agent classes in recent memory.