With the kind of money and time free agent Bryce Harper is looking for in a contract, you better believe everyone who still has an offer on the table for the 26-year-old outfielder has done all kinds of research on him to make sure he’ll be worth it.
For some of the teams, that included speaking to Harper’s former manager, Dusty Baker. According to NBC Sports, Baker has said management from both the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres rang him up to ask about whether or not Harper would be a good addition to the side.
Baker worked as Harper’s manager for two years while he was based with the Washington Nationals, and had nothing but praise for him.
“I enjoyed being around him,” Baker said. “Like all race horses or all guys that have been in the headlines for a long time, there are some things that you love and some things that you kind of dislike, but that’s all of us. You get paid to play.”
His response to the Padres asking if Harper would be good for the team was simply “Heck yeah!”
While Baker said no one from the Phillies has called him despite being considered the front runner in negotiations, he did explain that he doesn’t really have any contacts in the Philadelphia side.
Former #Nationals Manager Dusty Baker admits, "I don't know where [Bryce] is going," but also pours cold water on the idea of Harper signing a short-term deal. #SFGiants #Padres #Phillies #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/iv1vx2xl0b— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 27, 2019
Baker also admitted that while he still has contact with Harper, he hasn’t asked the player about where he intends to sign a contract, or even which way he’s leaning if he hasn’t yet made up his mind. He hasn’t followed up with either the Giants or the Padres either on their negotiations with Harper.
At the moment, there are four teams who are believed to still be involved — to varying degrees — in courting Harper. The Giants and Padres are still in the mix — although the San Diego side seem to be dropping out of the running — as well as the Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who reportedly suddenly jumped on board on Sunday with an offer for Harper.
According to Baker, one factor that will play a major role in the decision is stability, given that he and his wife, Kayla Varner, want to start a family. This could explain Harper’s demand for a long-term contract, as he doesn’t want to have to move around or be a free agent again during his career.
It has already been hinted that the reason Harper hesitated to sign with the Phillies in the first place is due to the distance between Philadelphia and Las Vegas, his hometown. With that in mind, the three California sides could provide him with better options.