Giants

Source: Bryce Harper praised Buster Posey during lengthy Giants meeting

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AP

Source: Bryce Harper praised Buster Posey during lengthy Giants meeting

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes before the start of FanFest on Saturday morning, Giants officials briefly were put into scramble mode. Social media buzzed with rumors that Bryce Harper soon would choose the Giants, which was news to the Giants themselves. 

It was an absurd notion that Harper, after months of speculation, simply would announce his intentions by showing up at Oracle Park on a cold, rainy day -- and team officials quickly shot down the possibility. The Giants do not expect Harper to make a decision this weekend, but as everyone prepared to head down to Scottsdale for the start of spring training, there certainly was an increase in optimism.

As players have talked over the past 24 hours, there has been an increased sense among some in the clubhouse that Harper prefers the Giants, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. From a management perspective, it certainly was not lost on the team’s decision-makers that Buster Posey publicly lobbied for a Harper deal when he met with reporters Friday. 

That admiration is said to be mutual. Per a source, one of the things Harper talked about with the Giants contingent in a Monday meeting in Las Vegas was how much he likes Posey. That meeting was supposed to last about two hours, but CEO Larry Baer, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy ended up spending four hours with Harper’s camp. 

They did not make an offer during the meeting, but if Zaidi had a concept in mind, he certainly had time to make it known to Scott Boras, Harper's agent. Zaidi, who has been transitioning from Los Angeles, flew back to the city with Boras at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting. 

Zaidi confirmed the team’s interest Friday, but he otherwise has preferred to keep this chase under wraps. Baer did not publicly speak about Harper during the week, but he did take the stage at FanFest on Saturday to answer a few questions. 

“Bryce Harper is an amazing player,” he said. “I can’t handicap it, I don’t know where we are, but we’re giving it a shot. That’s all we can do, I think.”

Baer pointed out that the Giants have had quick turnarounds before, noting the team won 103 games when Barry Bonds joined before the 1993 season. 

“One player can make a difference,” Baer said. “It’s obviously a different sport than basketball, but one player can make a difference.”

The Giants are chasing Harper because he can make a difference in more ways than one. The weather didn’t help, but by any standard, FanFest was stunningly quiet compared to past years. It’s one thing for fans to speak their minds on social media. It's another for them to speak with their wallets. 

[RELATED: Posey calls for every MLB team to be competitive]

If Saturday’s crowd was any indication, a lot of Giants fans aren't happy with the plan to take a step back and get younger. Perhaps it was no accident, then, when Baer threw in one last compliment of Harper as his time on stage came to an end.

“He’s 26 years old, too,” he said.

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants have found all sorts of different ways to lose games over the past two-plus years, especially on the road. But this was a new one. 

Derek Holland gave up a two-run shot moments before the tarps came out for good. It didn't seriously rain for about 25 more minutes, but PNC Park has a rule that the tarps come out if lightning strikes within four miles of the field. 

The Giants didn't immediately get a chance to counter at the plate, and when the rain started pouring, they could do nothing but wait before the game was called after three hours and eight minutes. They lost 3-1 in five innings

"If it wasn't for bad luck right now," manager Bruce Bochy said, "We wouldn't have any. That's how things are going."

Holland had thrown well early and was in his last inning, with the game tied at one. With a runner on and two outs, rookie Cole Tucker got a fastball that wasn't as far in as Holland wanted and blasted it into the shrubbery in center field. The homer was the first hit of Tucker's career and came in his first start. As Tucker took a dramatic curtain call, Holland struck out the next batter. He thought the game would continue, but the Giants never got another crack at Jameson Taillon. 

"That sucked," Holland said of the final sequence. "It's very upsetting. I felt like I pitched a pretty good game (and) that's the way it's going to finish.

The Giants lost for the fourth time in five games on this trip, dropping six games under .500. It's not like they should have been overmatched, either. The Pirates called up two rookies after a collision in the outfield Friday night and started both former Giants prospect Bryan Reynolds and Tucker, a shortstop who certainly enjoyed his debut.

Holland didn't take exception to that, saying he was focused on getting the final out of the fifth. 

[RELATED: Giants open to moving relievers]

"I don't have anything against the curtain call," he said. "The kid hit a homer in his first game, so congrats. The kid is living in the moment. It's his Major League debut and he hit a homer."

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

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AP

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

PITTSBURGH -- After a busy start to the season, Farhan Zaidi has gone nearly two weeks without making a move. The Giants are not currently considering adding any of their Triple-A bats to a struggling lineup, but there still is stuff percolating behind the scenes. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday that the Giants are willing to talk about some of their veteran relievers right now, which would be a continuation of a spring where the Giants tried to deal some of their bullpen depth but ultimately held everyone through Opening Day. 

Before that first game, Zaidi explained why a reliever-for-hitter trade never materialized. 

"When we talked about this over the course of the offseason it was a really deep reliever market in free agency this offseason, and we like our relievers, so they weren't just kind of fodder for us to trade them and acquire other pieces," Zaidi said. "A deal like that certainly made sense on paper, but we didn't line up on anything that we thought made sense for us."

It would continue to make sense for the Giants to seek those kinds of deals. They were right about their bullpen depth and talent, and through 21 games the group has a 2.33 ERA, more than a run lower than any other bullpen in the National League. The .605 OPS allowed is 57 points lower than the next best bullpen. 

It would be hard to get much for some of the newcomers, but if Zaidi could find the right deal for a Sam Dyson, for example, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent could fill some of those innings, along with a resurgent Mark Melancon, who hasn't allowed a run. The Giants could then bring up a Ray Black or Tyler Beede to fill out the bullpen.

[RELATED: Reynolds' call-up a reminder Giants took too long to change]

The left side is where the Giants really have intriguing pieces to offer, and they got calls on both Will Smith and Tony Watson in the offseason. Either one could help any contender, and there is some left-handed depth with Travis Bergen at the big league level and Andrew Suarez, Pat Venditte and Ty Blach in Triple-A. 

There are plenty of teams out there -- hello, Nationals and Braves! -- who could use the bullpen help right now, and Zaidi has shown he's not afraid to pull the trigger on an early deal, trading for two outfielders in the season's first two weeks. If someone out there is willing to give up a nice package for a Giants reliever, you can bet Zaidi will take that call seriously.