The San Francisco Giants are becoming the latest “mystery” team to enter the chase for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.
MLB Insider Jon Heyman reports that key Giants personnel, including President and CEO Larry Baer, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy, recently met with Harper. The extent of their interest is not known. Zaidi, formerly of the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers, has built a reputation of building through the draft, so a play for Harper would seem to go against Zaidi’s track record of building teams from within, rather than by paying for big-ticket free agents.
However, with their last World Series title in 2014 becoming a distant memory, and core players like catcher Buster Posey and pitcher Madison Bumgarner still in place, the move would make sense for the Giants for a couple of reasons.
First, the Giants have a very inexperienced outfield with Mac Williamson having the most Major League service time (120 games). Harper would fill an immediate need in right field and enhance a lineup that right now is a mix of aging veterans and rising young players.
Inserting Harper into the Giants would also provide an immediate marketing boost to a team that has been below .500 the last two seasons.
What’s less clear is if Harper would choose San Francisco. Certainly it doesn’t hurt to hear offers. San Francisco is close to Harper’s home in Las Vegas, so that may attract the veteran slugger.
With Spring Training now just a few weeks away, Harper appears no closer to getting the combination of money and years he has been looking for. As the calendar moves towards March it may be time for Harper and agent Scott Boros to take a different approach. That approach may be a one-year deal that would exceed the $32 million average annual value (AAV) set by Zach Grienke.
However, that approach though would seem to move Harper away from a team like the Giants, who have not contended in recent years, and be a tactic that might bring teams like the Yankees or the Dodgers back to the table. These teams have been reluctant to offer Harper the contract he is looking for, but a one-year, no-strings attached contract may be an enticement.
On the other hand, a one-year deal could open the market for even more teams to jump in. All of which means that there will probably be many more twists and turns to come before Harper makes a final decision.