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 acquire Connor Joe, who has shot at making Opening Day roster

Giants acquire Connor Joe, who has shot at making Opening Day roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants swapped out a Rule 5 pick who wasn't going to make the team for one who now very well might. 

Drew Ferguson, an outfielder picked up from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft, was designated for assignment Thursday to clear a roster spot for Connor Joe, a utility man who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds. Joe is under the same restrictions, and given that the Giants picked him up one week from Opening Day, there seems a good chance that Farhan Zaidi will try to tuck the former Dodgers prospect onto the roster. 

Joe, 26, has moved all over throughout his minor league career, primarily playing first base, third and the outfield. As a right-handed bat with a .363 career OBP in the minors, he fits a lot of what the Giants are looking for on their bench. That also could lead to some interesting decisions next week. 

The Giants already were trying to decide how to squeeze Yangervis Solarte, Alen Hanson and Pablo Sandoval on the roster, with the latter two looking like tough calls. They also could try to put Joe in the outfield mix, perhaps at the expense of a player like Mac Williamson or Cameron Maybin. 
Joe had a .935 OPS with 17 homers in Double-A and Triple-A for the Dodgers organization last season. He was the sixth player selected in the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, and hit .275 this spring for the Reds. 

[RELATED: Five reasons to be optimistic about the 2019 Giants]

The Giants had hoped Ferguson would fill these holes, but he had a poor spring and was not in position to make the club. The Giants would have had to offer him back to the Astros next week, with very little hope of keeping him in their system. 

To acquire Joe, the Giants traded minor league right-hander Jordan Johnson and cash considerations to the Reds. Johnson had a 4.37 ERA in 86 minor league appearances for the Giants. 

Brandon Belt putting up exceptional numbers for Giants at plate in spring

Brandon Belt putting up exceptional numbers for Giants at plate in spring

Before I start this post ...

I know ... "spring training stats don't matter." But Brandon Belt is hitting the you-know-what out of the ball right now in the Cactus League, and going 9-for-9 isn't something that should be ignored -- even during games that don't count.

Now that we got that out of the way ... 

Baseball Reference is one of the few sites that has spring training stats, so shout out to them. And this is what Belt is working with as we head into Opening Day.

A .485/.553/.818 line with three home runs and six RBI in 13 games. 

Not bad ... not bad at all.

And he seems to be having fun despite a small mishap cutting half of his eyebrow off prior to Photo Day, but who hasn't done that?