Nick Wass/Associated Press
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Giants “plan to offer Harper a lucrative short-term deal, but have no desire to provide a long-term contract approaching the 10-year, $300 million contract Harper rejected from the Washington Nationals in September.”
Nightengale also reported that “one high-ranking rival executive boldly predicts the Giants will ultimately sign the 26-year-old star.”
Signing Harper would be a departure from San Francisco’s offseason plans to this point. As Nightengale noted, the team was prioritizing getting younger and more athletic and had only spent $9 million in free agency. The Giants were also listening to trade offers for their older players and reportedly hadn’t even engaged with Harper until last week.
While teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Nationals and San Diego Padres have been linked to Harper throughout the offseason, the Giants would be a surprising new contender and, at the very least, will provide the slugger with a bit more leverage in negotiations.
Of course, the Giants and the Bay Area are hoping to be more than just leverage. Even Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made his pitch to Harper:
Warriors on NBCS @NBCSWarriors
Coach Kerr has a message for you, @Bharper3407 😏 https://t.co/KpNthKUBtM
“Bryce, come to the Giants,” he said. “Let’s go!”
“We want to be able to pursue players to bring championships back to the Giants’ fans,” Giants president Larry Baer said at the team’s FanFest, per Nightengale. “Bryce Harper is an amazing player. It’s very hard, these are competitions, and I can’t handicap it.”
One factor remaining in these negotiations will be where Manny Machado signs and which of the two players comes to a contract agreement first and sets the market. For teams like the Phillies, Machado would be the consolation prize for potentially missing out on Harper and vice versa. In that way, the fact that both remain unsigned provides some leverage to teams, who can simply take their best offer to both players.
Thus far, however, Machado and Harper haven’t blinked either. It’s a high-stakes game of chicken, one that threatens to last into spring training.