Most of the rumors swirling around free agent outfielder Bryce Harper on Saturday suggested that he might be signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, ending months of speculation regarding his destination for the 2019 MLB season. As reported by the Inquisitr, former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden commented on Saturday that Harper could be “rounding third and heading home shortly” as he nears a deal with the Phillies. This came shortly after it was reported that Harper commented on an Instagram post from Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, further fueling speculation that the 26-year-old All-Star might take his talents to Philadelphia.
Despite all the talk of Harper joining the Phillies, the San Francisco Giants have not been completely counted out in the rumor mill, as Washington, D.C., radio talk show host Chris Russell guessed earlier this week that the former No. 1 draft pick has chosen to sign with San Francisco, per NBC Sports. But with Harper’s decision still far from official, Kerry Crowley of the Mercury News explained on Saturday that there are reasons why the Giants have not signed Harper despite clearly having a need for a player like him, but also a way to offer him a deal that could benefit both sides.
Although the Giants, under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, are likely to reduce “reckless spending” by offering players more short-term contracts and “incrementally” improving their depth, Crowley wrote that the team could still offer Bryce Harper a fairly long-term deal, if not one that has him signed for at least 10 years. He opined that Harper could be a player who helps the Giants transition from their current to their future core, and may be worth an investment “of at least five years.”
With Zaidi’s reluctance to offer long-term contracts in mind, Crowley suggested that the Giants could instead help Harper break another contract-related record and make a deal that pays him the highest average annual salary. This record is currently held by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke, who earns $34.4 million per year on a six-year, $206.5 million contract.
“If none of the teams interested in Harper are currently willing to extend a 10-year offer, the Giants could secure his services and push past the luxury tax threshold by offering the outfielder a deal that pays him between $35 and $40 million annually. The Giants and Harper could meet in the middle, with one side sacrificing the desired number of years and the other sacrificing some additional payroll flexibility.”
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) February 15, 2019
All in all, the Mercury News‘ Crowley believes that both Bryce Harper and the San Francisco Giants could benefit from a deal that pays the outfielder $275 million to $300 million over seven to eight years. This is because Harper could remain in San Francisco throughout the prime years of his career while earning close to what he would make if he signed a 10-year contract. Furthermore, Harper could re-enter the free agent market once his contract expires and “potentially [earn] much more” at age 33 than he would if he became a free agent at 36-years-old.
At this point, there are still a lot of moving parts that could influence where Harper moves to or what clauses may be included in his next MLB contract. But even with most rumors from the past few days favoring the Phillies as Harper’s next destination after seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, Crowley concluded that it is indeed “feasible” for the Giants to make him the richest man in professional baseball if they offer him the right deal.