MLB rumors: Bryce Harper, Giants brass had second meeting in Las Vegas

MLB rumors: Bryce Harper, Giants brass had second meeting in Las Vegas

SAN FRANCISCO -- The chase for Bryce Harper still includes both sides of one of the game's best rivalries. 

The Giants have insisted in recent days that they believe they're still in on Harper, even with the Dodgers becoming more serious, and they backed that up by meeting with the slugger this week, according to Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News.

Harper hosted CEO Larry Baer and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi on Tuesday in Las Vegas, according to Crowley

This would be the second known meeting between Harper and the Giants. Earlier in February, Baer, Zaidi and Bruce Bochy traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Harper, his wife Kayla, and agent Scott Boras. 

The Dodgers sent an impressive contingent, including president Andrew Friedman, manager Dave Roberts and members of the ownership group, to meet with Harper over the weekend. Also over the weekend, Harper had yet another meeting with Phillies owner John Middleton. 

The Phillies are still the favorites for most in the game, but the Giants and Dodgers are hoping to convince Harper to play close to his Las Vegas home. It's unknown what the two sides are offering, but the Giants have made at least one offer to Harper. 

[RELATED: Harper watch -- Brinks truck now seen at Giants camp]

The Giants have been focused on shorter deals, but they also know that the market has shifted. After Manny Machado signed a $300 million deal with the Padres, a source said the Giants were under the belief that nothing under that would get it done. Nolan Arenado's extension on Tuesday further reset the market, and it's possible Harper will now also aim to set a new record for average annual salary. Arenado is the new record-holder at $32.5 million per season. 

Cubs vs. Giants lineups: Madison Bumgarner makes possible final home start

Cubs vs. Giants lineups: Madison Bumgarner makes possible final home start

Only one thing can be true: Either Madison Bumgarner is making his final home start in a Giants uniform against the Cubs on Tuesday night, or he's not getting moved at the rapidly approaching trade deadline.

Given San Francisco's recent hot streak -- the Giants have won 16 of their last 19 games and now sit just two games out of a playoff spot -- it doesn't seem nearly as likely that Bumgarner (5-7, 3.65 ERA) will be traded as it did just a few weeks ago. The Giants are fully in the thick of the playoff race, and have their best pitcher taking the mound against Chicago.

[RELATED: Looking back at MadBum's unique dominance at Oracle Park]

Bumgarner has been on fire as of late, having gone 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his past five starts, with 34 strikeouts in 29 innings. The left-hander has posted a 9-2 career record against the Cubs, who have struggled against southpaws so far this season. Chicago ranks 13th out of 15 National League teams with a .242 batting average against lefties.

Opposing Bumgarner for the Cubs will be Yu Darvish (3-4, 4.46 ERA), who has yet to allow a run in 12 innings since the All-Star break. In wins over the Pirates and Reds, Darvish allowed just four hits and struck out 15 to just one walk.

The Giants will go with a lefty-heavy lineup against the Cubs' right-hander, with Alex Dickerson starting in left field and batting cleanup.

Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on the My Teams app.

Here are the full Cubs-Giants lineups:

San Francisco Giants (51-50)
Brandon Belt, 1B
Buster Posey, C
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Alex Dickerson, LF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Mike Yastrzemski, RF
Kevin Pillar, CF
Joe Panik, 2B

Madison Bumgarner, LHP (5-7, 3.65 ERA)

Chicago Cubs (54-46)
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Javier Baez, SS
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Albert Almora Jr., CF
Jason Heyward, RF
Robel Garcia, 2B
Victor Caratini, C

Yu Darvish, RHP (3-4, 4.46 ERA)

Bruce Bochy gushes over work Farhan Zaidi has done with Giants' roster

Bruce Bochy gushes over work Farhan Zaidi has done with Giants' roster

You might think that the Giants' recent hot streak has put president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in a bit of a tough spot.

The Giants were seen as surefire sellers heading into July, but manager Bruce Bochy's club now has won 16 of their last 19 games and is in the thick of the NL wild-card race. 

With eight days remaining until the MLB trade deadline, Zaidi now must decide if wants to sell off the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, or perhaps pick up a player or two that can help give Bochy one last run at October baseball.

While the winning streak might make Zaidi's job a little tougher, Bochy told MLB Network Radio's "Inside Pitch" that Zaidi is having a blast with the recent hot streak, and the manager gushed about the work Zaidi has done to improve the Giants.

"You know, it's been great with Farhan," Bochy said. "I tell you, he's a really smart, good baseball man. He's all about winning. That's all he wants to do, so he's having a lot of fun with this, trust me. Sure there was a lot of discussions earlier, 'Well we're going to make moves and move guys, whatever' But I assure you, this is a lot more fun for him, and he's having a better time, and so it's really been fun to see how we've improved our roster, too. He's done a great job of doing that, getting the Dickersons here and Yastrzemski, and of course, Slater coming up here and Anderson and Beede out there pitching for us.

"It's going well here and it's obvious winning makes our lives a lot better, but it's fun to see our fans enjoy it, but also for Farhan to see a better team. As I go out, that's what I wanted to do is to try to get this club back on track and back to winning baseball. That's our goal and hopefully, I leave it in a better spot than when I came here."

[RELATED: Looking back at MadBum's unique dominance at Oracle Park]

The Giants enter Tuesday's game against the Chicago Cubs -- which will be filled with "hordes of scouts" to watch Bumgarner -- at 51-50, two games out of the second NL wild-card spot.

Another win or two against the NL Central-leading Cubs might be all Zaidi needs to abandon thoughts of dealing Bumgarner and Smith and see how far the winning wave can take the Giants.