The Giants have reportedly entered the mix for star free agent Bryce Harper. Randy Miller of NJ.com tweeted the connection, with Jon Heyman of MLB Network adding on Twitter that the club has recently met with Harper.
It is not yet clear how serious the interest is on behalf of the San Francisco organization, which is already dealing with quite a few large contract entanglements and recently turned over its baseball operations to Farhan Zaidi. Still, it’s intriguing to hear the connection. Zaidi was joined by owner Larry Baer and skipper Bruce Bochy in the sit-down, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports notes in a tweet.
Harper was already known to have met recently with the NL West rival Padres. Heyman suggests that multiple new organizations have entered the picture of late, which certainly could suggest that agent Scott Boras has sought to expand the pool of possibilities. Just what that suggests about Harper’s market and asking price isn’t clear.
It had long seemed that the Giants would be a leading potential landing spot for Harper, due to the team’s obvious need for youthful stars — particularly in the outfield — and history of maintaining high payrolls. But with the organization engineering a baseball ops shake-up after a pair of disappointing seasons, the match became much less certain.
Zaidi made his name finding value for the A’s and then scaling that process up as GM of the Dodgers. Plunking down huge dollars over long terms has not been a signature tenet of his approach as an executive. And the Giants are already loaded with underperforming contracts, some worse than others, that have left the organization with relatively little wiggle room beneath the competitive balance tax threshold.
That’s not to say that the San Francisco organization doesn’t make any sense as a Harper suitor. Even if immediate contention isn’t completely reasonable, the club has plenty of high-quality veteran players. With some creativity, the luxury tax barrier could also be dealt with. Zaidi noted at the outset of his tenure that he expects the organization’s decisions on premium talent to be “driven more by baseball need and opportunity than kind of working backwards from a payroll.” He cast doubt then on pursuit of a star free agent, but did not rule out the concept entirely.