Giants: Failing to sign Bryce Harper was a blessing in disguise
By Kyle Foster
The San Francisco Giants whiffed on signing Bryce Harper last offseason. One year later, it looks like that was for the best.
Last winter, there were two big fish available in free agency. One of them was 26-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, and the San Francisco Giants made a serious run at signing him.
After multiple meetings with Harper, the Giants eventually finished second in the sweepstakes to the Philadelphia Phillies, who ended up signing him to an eye-popping 13-year, $330 million contract.
For Giants fans, it was another gut punch after missing out on Jon Lester and Giancarlo Stanton, among others, over the previous few years.
When the season began, the Giants trotted out an Opening Day outfield of Steven Duggar, Connor Joe and Michael Reed. It was obviously a less-than-impressive group, and it would ultimately serve as a sign that things couldn’t get any lower.
Then, Farhan Zaidi began working his magic.
Just six days into the season, the Giants acquired Kevin Pillar from the Toronto Blue Jays. He wound finish the year with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs en route to winning the 2019 Willie Mac Award, while also hitting for the second-highest average of his career.
Then, rookie Mike Yastrzemski made a splash after making his MLB debut on May 25 at the age of 28. He ended the season with 21 home runs and 55 RBI, to go along with a .272 average.
The Giants also got solid contributions in the outfield from Alex Dickerson and Austin Slater, neither of whom were part of the Opening Day roster.
It’s only been one year and Harper is only one player, but the Giants were able to finish with a 77-85 record without him in 2019. Meanwhile, the Phillies were not much better at 81-81, despite lofty expectations.
From a statistical standpoint, Harper had a very good year, tallying 35 home runs and 114 RBI while hitting .260. He also provided above-average defense in the outfield. But in the end, the Phillies were expected to make the postseason and Harper didn’t take them there.
Meanwhile, the Giants ended up getting plenty of production from guys who were making a fraction of Harper’s salary. It just goes to show that the high-profile signing is not always worth it.
If the Giants had signed Harper to the 12-year, $310 million deal that they offered him, according to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, the team would not have the same financial flexibility it currently possesses.
In the end, fans should be thankful that the Giants whiffed on Harper.