Late-entering Giants serious about Harper
The Phillies, who have been the favorites to land free agent outfielder Bryce Harper all offseason, suddenly have serious competition in the Giants.
One high-ranking rival executive boldly predicts the Giants will ultimately sign the 26-year-old star.
The Giants indeed plan to offer Harper a lucrative short-term deal but have no desire to provide a long-term contract approaching the 10-year, $300 million contract Harper rejected from the Nationals in September.
“We want to be able to pursue players to bring championships back to the Giants’ fans,” team president Larry Baer told reporters at the Giants’ FanFest. “Bryce Harper is an amazing player. It’s very hard, these are competitions, and I can’t handicap it.”
The Giants, who had not engaged with Harper until last week, had spent the winter listening to trade offers for their veterans while spending just $9 million on free agent acquisitions. Their mission, when hiring Farhan Zaidi as president of baseball operations, was to build a younger, more athletic team for the future.
Yet with season ticket sales stagnant and apathy starting to seep in from their fan base, the Giants decided they might as well check to see if they can get a discount price for Harper.
Certainly, Harper hasn’t found a tantalizing offer yet, or he would have taken it.
It’s also hardly a secret that he would prefer to play close to his Las Vegas home, have spring training in Arizona, with his family able to jump into a car and see him whenever they desire.
Still, money talks, the California taxes are a monster and, as gorgeous as Oracle Park is in San Francisco, it can be treacherous for home run hitters not named Barry Bonds.
It will be fascinating to see how aggressive the Giants plan to be in their pursuit, knowing that just a year ago they were willing to take on $265 million in a trade for slugger Giancarlo Stanton that he vetoed.
The Giants had internally talked about the possibility of signing Harper for most of last season, but after they went 73-89 and finished in fourth place in the National League West — prompting a front office regime makeover — those talks went dormant.
Until now, when Baer, Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy met for four hours in Las Vegas with Harper, his wife, and agent Scott Boras.
The Giants badly could use a power hitter to anchor the middle of their lineup. They would certainly welcome the gate attraction. And they would promote him as their greatest free agent acquisition since Bonds.
“I don’t know where we are,” Baer said, “but we’re giving it a shot. That’s all we can do.”
The Giants met for 4 hours with Bryce Harper.