The Giants jumped into the mix for Bryce Harper very late in the game and feel the outfielder’s drawn-out courtship will allow them to get in well under initial contract estimates. San Francisco’s interest is believed to be serious, though that won’t lead to anything close to the 10 years and $300 million Harper had been offered by the Nationals.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Giants plan to offer Harper a lucrative short-term deal and are viewed by a “high-ranking rival executive” as favorites to land the 26-year-old superstar. That’s something of a departure from the talk of a rebuild that could have seen them selling off staff ace Madison Bumgarner as part of an effort to get younger and cheaper, though several other factors are at play.
After winning three World Series titles in five years, the Giants have fallen into relative obscurity and can’t very well afford to remain complacent. What they can afford is more payroll, especially since they’ve spent just $9 million in free agency this winter. Fans aren’t going to be happy with that, nor are players.
Great news for Phils fans. But shouldn’t every team be in a win-right-now mode? What is the point in showing up if you’re not trying to win? Thankful for being in an organization that wants to win! pic.twitter.com/GoDYBYXpEJ
— Buster Posey (@BusterPosey) February 9, 2019
The Giants offer a marquis destination that isn’t far from Harper’s hometown, plus they play in the Cactus League. If that latter part seems insignificant, consider that playing his spring games in close proximity to his family is one of the creature comforts Harper would surely appreciate no matter the size of his next deal.
Speaking of, exactly how short and lucrative are we talking about here? Despite hypothetical talk of a one-year deal, that’s just too much risk for Harper to take on even for $40+ million. And anything beyond four years puts him back on the market after age 30, which isn’t ideal for his future earning ability. So it seems like a three-year deal, maybe at $105-120 million, would make sense.
Such a contract would ensure Harper the highest average annual value (Zack Greinke, $34.4M) and allow him the opportunity to cash in once again at just 29 years old. That timing also coincides with the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, which means a new deal would come under what figures to be more player-friendly guidelines. Perhaps there’d even be a player option after the first and/or second years, and maybe even a swellopt after the third year.
But if Harper is really willing to settle for well under half the financial security he’d been seeking earlier in the winter, why in the blue hell aren’t more teams involved? Or maybe we just narrow that down to one team that wears blue, and I don’t mean the Dodgers.
We also need to consider the possibility that the Giants’ offer won’t be taken seriously and that Scott Boras is simply soliciting it to spur the rest of the market. That actually seems more plausible than settling for three years, but I guess anything’s possible with spring training starting this week.