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.
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
“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.
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.