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Why Kuiper hopes Bryant sticks with Giants long-term

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Kris Bryant

As Duane Kuiper has watched Kris Bryant go through his first week in orange and black, he has seen all of the traditional tools scouts look for. 

Bryant hit a homer on his first day as a Giant and showed off sneaky speed against the Arizona Diamondbacks with an infield single. He already has played three different positions, including center field, and has six hits in 18 at-bats, two of which were crucial in Thursday's historic victory. But Kuiper has seen something else that stands out, as well. 

"It looks like he's got the sixth tool, which is he likes to have fun," Kuiper said on this week's "Giants Talk" podcast. "He looks like he's got a great personality."

It has been hard to wipe the smile off Bryant's face since he walked into Oracle Park on Sunday morning, and that's exactly how the Giants hoped this would go. First and foremost, they view Bryant as someone who can be the final piece of a championship puzzle, but this is a franchise that always has had one eye on the future with moves like this.

The most notable recent example came in 2012-13, when the Giants made a similar midseason deal for Hunter Pence and then signed him to a long-term extension before he could hit the open market a year later. During his first press conference as a Giant, Bryant certainly sounded open to repeating history. 

"It's definitely enticing," he said of staying in San Francisco. "It's a spot that is close to home. I was talking to my wife when it happened and we both thought that I would always end up here, somehow, someway. It ended up being a trade. So far, so good. Everything has been super professional. It's such a classy organization. Everybody who has reached out to me so far, I've been absolutely blown away. I feel unbelievably wanted. It's just an amazing feeling."


It is not at all difficult to list all the ways in which Bryant and the Giants make a ton of sense as a long-term partnership. At 29 years old, he is young enough to still be a middle-of-the-order bat as the next core arrives from the minor leagues, but experienced enough -- particularly in the postseason -- to serve as a leader in the clubhouse no matter what happens with other potential free agents like Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Kevin Gausman.

Bryant's versatility would allow the Giants to lock him up without worrying about blocking any of their best prospects or current young contributors. He would supplement them all, and there are no signs that he is slowing down. His 134 OPS+ is exactly in line with his career mark. 

For Bryant, the Giants also are a perfect fit. He is a Las Vegas native, and the Giants are easily the best positioned of the nearby teams to offer him a long-term deal. The San Diego Padres surely can't afford another free agency splash and have Manny Machado at third base. The Los Angeles Dodgers figure to be more focused on keeping their own stars the next couple of years, like Corey Seager and Trea Turner, and they are far over the CBT line. The Diamondbacks look headed for a rebuild, the Los Angeles Angels need pitching, and the A's, well, they don't dabble in this end of the offseason pool.

The Giants essentially have blank slate moving forward, but that doesn't mean they're handing out blank checks, and that's where this gets tricky. Bryant is a Scott Boras client, and as much as the fit in San Francisco makes sense, it's Boras' history to take his best players to the open market and look for massive deals. He almost always gets them. 

The Giants aren't afraid of negotiating with Boras, though. It was just two years ago that Farhan Zaidi offered another Boras client from Las Vegas -- Bryce Harper -- more than $300 million. 

Asked last week about the possibility of this being a runway to a long-term partnership, Zaidi smiled and pointed out that the Giants might have an advantage if they just let Barry Bonds handle the negotiations. He then pointed out that Bryant joins a very large group of pending free agents in the clubhouse. 

"We've got a good team and we want to keep as much of this group together as possible," Zaidi said. "And he sort of fits into that same category that's going to be a conversation for another day."

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The Giants have a lot to worry about before sitting down at that table. Basically every veteran contributor on this roster will be a free agent, and those conversations will be complicated by a potential labor war. For now, both sides are just focusing on going one day at a time, and it's working well. The Giants are 4-1 since Bryant joined their roster. 

"It's going to be a good marriage," Kuiper said. "Hopefully we all have a really wonderful ending and he's a big part of it, and I really think he will be. He's just an extraordinary talent and it looks like he's going to fit in. It looks like he's already made a number of terrific friends, and let's hope it has a really great ending four or five years from now."

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