According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Randy Miller of NJ.com, the San Francisco Giants met with and may have an inclination to sign top-tier free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.
This is probably the most impactful news of the offseason so far for the San Francisco Giants fans, many of whom are split on whether or not to sign Bryce Harper. The meeting could very well be an indicator that Harper’s asking price is dropping to the point where Farhan Zaidi and other Giants brass feel comfortable enough to at least test the waters.
Indeed, other teams, such as the San Diego Padres, seem to be getting into the Harper bidding in addition to the Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies.
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However, the 26 year-old Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, have kept baseball world waiting as they hold out for a contract they like.
While the Giants already have several long-term commitments in place to veterans on the team (i.e. Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Mark Melancon, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, etc.), Harper is still incredibly young for a free agent and plays in the corner outfield, where the Giants have few established players.
He would bring a level of raw power and talent to newly-renamed Oracle Park’s outfield that the Giants haven’t had since Barry Bonds, but he is also frustratingly inconsistent, which is why he likely hasn’t been offered a deal he likes.
Last year, the Nevada native hit just .249 but posted an elite .393 OBP and .496 SLG with 34 HRs. Yet, he was still worth just 1.3 WAR, primarily due to his worst defensive season in the majors.
Previously, he’s shown his ceiling in an incredible MVP season in 2015, his age-22 season. That year he hit 330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs en route to an astonishing 10 WAR season. For reference, that’s as valuable as the 2018 versions of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Derek Holland combined.
A rumor is just a rumor, but it would be a significant step if the Giants did meet with him. Their biggest moves so far this offseason have been low-risk one year deals to Holland and Drew Pomeranz (and they released Harper’s adversary Hunter Strickland), so there could be some room in the budget if the right superstar’s asking price happened to drop.