Bryce Harper Q&A: How would signing the star free agent affect Giants?

Bryce Harper Q&A: How would signing the star free agent affect Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — Even in a down year, the Giants had 10 walk-off wins in 2018. This is a franchise that is familiar with the comeback, and perhaps that’ll be the case with the Chase For Bryce Harper. 

The Giants, it turns out, were a #MysteryTeam. They're in on Harper, to at least some extent, shaking up a sleepy offseason. 

If you missed it yesterday, here are the details of what went down. And here’s the all-important look at the budget. 

But there’s a lot more to unpack here, and Giants fans had a lot of questions in the hours after the Harper news broke. Let’s answer some of them … 

“Do you think he would fit in with his sassy attitude??” — @TimmysTwins 

Angel Pagan was one of the sassiest people I’ve ever met and he … wait that’s a bad example. 

I don’t know what defines a baseball player as sassy, but I chose this because there were a lot of questions about Harper’s attitude. I haven’t spent enough time around him to really know, but people who have played with Harper have told me in the past that he’s a good teammate and there won’t be any issues. When the news broke yesterday, a baseball person who has known him for a while said the same. 

Is Harper a different type than a Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner? Sure. But the Giants have been successful with all types. Trust me, a lot of different kinds of personalities have thrived in that clubhouse. And you know what, as much as Pagan got under teammates’ skin at times, he brought an edge on the field, particularly in his early years. 

The Giants we watched for the last two years could use an edge. 

“How likely is it for the three big wigs to meet with him if this was anything but kicking tires? Seems very serious, doesn’t it?” — @Barking5pider

Yes, this is a serious pursuit. How serious? Well, that’ll depend on what Harper is really looking for. Nobody around the game seems to have a true indication, but the Giants were serious about sitting down with Harper and his team and seeing if there’s a fit, with more to come later.

No offer has been made, but Baer and Zaidi have moved from monitoring to actually being in the ring, and that’s a big step. 

“How much of a difference did the Oracle deal make in the current pursuit of signing Harper?” — @itsmiguelyo

Does it help to approach ownership with something like this after your business people have guaranteed hundreds of millions in naming rights fees? Of course. But the Giants could always afford Bryce Harper. Every MLB team can, and the Giants, in particular, were one of the few willing to swallow Giancarlo Stanton’s deal last winter. 

The difference here in February is that Harper’s market ended up being quieter than the Giants expected, and there’s now a chance to be try and be opportunistic. 

“Does Smash Mouth approve?” — EVERYONE

Yes, Smash Mouth is in on Bryce. 

“Is this the real reason Strickland moved on?” — @JimCavanah

A lot of people asked this or made a joke about Strickland. I get it, but just to clarify one last time, the Giants let Strickland go at a time when they didn’t expect to be in on Harper.

They felt they could find cheaper right-handed bullpen options (some are listed here). Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Giants and Mariners won’t play again until 2021. 

“No hair flips at Oracle Park. No overpaying for a guy that will bat .240 either. Stick with the youngsters in the outfield for now, since the team got absolutely nothing done this offseason.” — @MikeEarle*

This isn’t a question, but I’ve been amused by how many people have watched the Giants lose 187 games the last two years and still decided Harper is not a good idea. Let’s debunk a bit. 

No matter what, there will be hair flips at Oracle Park. Brandon Crawford will take care of that. 

And yes, Harper batted .249 last year, but it’s 2019 and we look at on-base percentage, and he was at .393. Harper has a .388 career OPB and has been over .400 twice in the last four years.

[RELATED: Giants fan first knew about Bryce Harper meeting with team in free agency]

As for the “youngster” angle, Harper is younger than two of the five outfielders the Giants currently have on their 40-man roster. He's the same age as Austin Slater and just a year older than Steven Duggar and Chris Shaw, who made their debuts last year. 

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about putting that much money into one player, and it certainly is not the way Zaidi prefers to build a team. But don't worry about age, batting average or attitude as this process drags on. 

As Tyler Beede struggles, opponent provides example of what can come


As Tyler Beede struggles, opponent provides example of what can come

ATLANTA -- There were some close calls in the second half, some postgame media sessions where manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Tyler Beede's rotation spot was in jeopardy. 

But the Giants stuck with their young right-hander, who now is poised to finish the season in the rotation. Two parts of Friday's 6-0 loss to the Braves, who clinched the NL East title, showed why it's so important that they continue to be patient. 

Beede ended the second inning by freezing his college teammate, Dansby Swanson, with a 98 mph fastball. It was the fastest pitch of Beede's season and comes at the end of a long and often trying year -- and it's the kind of pitch that only a select group of right-handed starters have in their arsenal. 

Mike Foltynewicz is one of them, and he's an example of what the Giants hope Beede can become. Foltynewicz has similar stuff and a similar background as a high-end prospect, and he had a very strong 2018 season. 

But Foltynewicz has also struggled with inconsistency, so much so that the Braves optioned him back to Triple-A for six weeks this summer. Since returning, he has a 6-0 record and a sparkling 2.35 ERA. On Friday, he threw eight shutout innings. 

Beede is 26. Foltynewicz turns 28 in a month. There are still plenty of reasons for hope as the Giants move forward. 

This night was a representation of much of Beede's season. His fastball averaged 95.4 mph, his slider hit 88 mph, his changeup darted at times, and he had so much movement on his curveball that at one point Josh Donaldson swung at an 0-2 bender and ended up whipping his bat towards first base. 

But Beede also allowed seven hits, two of which cleared the fence. Ronald Acuña Jr. got a hanging curveball in the fifth and hit a no-doubter to right-center. An inning later, Brian McCann hit a two-run shot on a fastball that was low but center-cut. 

"It's one of those games where you wonder how he gave up six, but (there were) a couple of long balls," Bochy said. "Really good at times, but he just didn't get away with any mistakes."

[RELATED: Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade]

The highlight of the night was that tantalizing pitch to Swanson, a friend of Beede's since their Vanderbilt days. 

"I feel great. I'll just continue to learn, learn a lot," Beede said. "I'll go out there and try to compete, fill the zone and go after guys. I hate losing, man. I'm not going to be happy about a start like this, but at the same time I thought it might be better than the results showed."

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

ATLANTA -- As the Braves' relief pitchers finished their sprints in right field Friday afternoon, a pack of Giants relievers started a jog around the warning track. Mark Melancon walked over and met his former teammates, but the hugs lost a little steam as he made his way through. Eventually, Melancon was standing around with just Will Smith, catching up a few hours before they faced each other. 

"The first half (of the group) I knew all the guys," Melancon said, smiling. "The second half it was all new guys."

The Giants just about have a completely new bullpen since Melancon's last appearance. Melancon has a new situation, too. As the Giants limp to the finish, their former marquee free-agent addition will try to close out a National League East title with the Braves. 

Melancon, mostly a mid-innings man for the Giants this season, is the closer for one of the National League's powerhouses. He's perfect in 11 save opportunities in Atlanta. That may come as a surprise to fans who watched him for two and a half seasons in San Francisco. It does not at all seem out of place for Melancon. 

"That's where I think I'm best," he said of the ninth inning. "I knew that. That was easy for me to see."

Melancon never lost that confidence in San Francisco, even as an arm injury that popped up in his first week with the Giants robbed him of much of his old effectiveness. He had a 3.67 ERA with the Giants but totaled just 15 saves. 

The Giants got out of the final year-plus of a $62 million deal and acquiring two pitching prospects in the minutes before the trade deadline. Melancon ended up being the real winner in the deal. He has found himself closing for a team that can clinch the division Friday night. 

"I'm so impressed with these guys," he said of the Braves. "They're 22-year-olds acting like they're 35 as far as maturity level. It's really impressive."

[RELATED: Giants' Madison Bumgarner's road struggles continue ahead of free agency]

Melancon is excited about heading back to the postseason, although he credited his former team for never losing sight of that goal. He said he appreciated that the Giants never went full rebuild, and he looks back on his time in San Francisco fondly. 

"I had a great time. It's always about the people," he said. "It was a great two and a half years with great people ... that was our home for two and a half years and it was awesome."