SAN FRANCISCO — Pitchers never forget, and Bryce Harper didn’t either. Three years after Harper took Strickland deep in the NLDS and the two exchanged words, Strickland drilled Harper, setting off a wild, legitimate fight on the mound.
Harper charged Strickland and tried to throw his helmet before the two started throwing haymakers. A wild brawl ensued, and Strickland had to be dragged off the field by three teammates. Both players were ejected.
Harper came up with two outs and the Giants trailing by a pair in the eighth. The first pitch was a 98 mph heat-seaker right at Harper’s hip. Harper pointed his bat at Strickland and then tossed it down. Strickland dropped his glove and then Harper threw his helmet, which ended up going toward second base. Each player got at least one good shot in before they were swallowed up by a dogpile.
Jeff Samardzija — coming from the bench — collided with Michael Morse, who was coming from first. Both appeared to be fine.
Harper and Strickland first crossed paths in the 2014 NLDS, when Harper homered off Strickland in Game 1 and then hit a 97 mph fastball into McCovey Cove to tie Game 4. He watched it fly and the two stared at each other as Harper rounded second. When he reached the dugout, he turned back toward the field and screamed at Strickland.
When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.
What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.
Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.
While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.
And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.
Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but it doesn't appear he'll make a return to the Bay Area.
Per Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Reds are engaged in trade discussions that would send Gray to Cincinnati in exchange for infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick.
Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home.
Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.