It seems like this happened five years ago, but it's only been about 14 months since Bryce Harper chose the Philadelphia Phillies over the Giants and a host of other teams.
It'll be a great "what-if" moment for Giants executives and fans for years to come, and on a recent episode of Barstool Sports' Starting 9 podcast, Harper went into great detail about how he made the decision to sign a 13-year deal to play in Philadelphia.
The Giants presented a lot of what Harper was looking for. He told co-hosts Dallas Braden and Jared Carrabis that he wanted an organization that understood winning, had veteran guys around and played in a great city. Harper's affinity for San Francisco is well known, and the Giants certainly know how to win titles, but perhaps their veterans didn't quite fit what Harper had in mind.
"My fear with San Fran was all their guys are kind of done," he said on the podcast. "Posey was going to be gone possibly, or he was going to move to first base. Belt only had like two years left (on his contract) so he was going to be gone possibly. Crawford, where was he going to be? He's a great shortstop."
Braden cut Harper off and said: "You're not trying to be in the middle of a rebuild. I'll say it for you." While the Giants prefer different words, there's little doubt that they are rebuilding, and it's hard to blame Harper too much for his assessment.
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The roster has undergone massive changes over the past 18 months, and Posey, Belt and Crawford all will have their contracts expire after the 2021 season. At that point, Harper still will have 10 years left on his deal, and the Phillies do have a veteran core that's a bit more stable than the one in San Francisco.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants knew that their roster put them at a slight disadvantage, but they still gave it a strong run last offseason, hoping the 27-year-old could be the anchor of their lineup as guys such as Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos arrived and filled in around Posey, Belt, Crawford and others. Their final offer to Harper -- who got $330 million from the Phillies -- was 12 years for $310 million.
Harper had a good first season in Philadelphia, hitting 35 homers and posting a .882 OPS, but not an overwhelming one. The Giants can take solace in the fact that their rebuild looks to be moving at a faster pace thanks to a much-improved farm system. And, of course, they can sleep a little easier knowing Harper didn't end up with the Dodgers.
Harper went in depth on the podcast, saying he wanted to return to Washington DC, but their offers contained too many deferrals. He said the White Sox made a strong push, and the Astros came in early with an intriguing one-year offer at a "stupid" high salary. The Dodgers joined the chase late with a four-year offer with extremely high annual average salaries and multiple opt-outs, but Harper wanted to go somewhere he could stay the rest of his career. He ultimately took a deal without opt-outs.
"I got so tired of my whole career in DC everybody talking about -- even after my first year, man -- all anybody talked about is where is he going. All I heard was where is he going," Harper told Starting 9. "I want these people knowing that I'm here, for the good, the bad, that's it."
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The whole interview is about two hours and -- even if you're still sad about the way free agency went -- is worth listening to just for the long rant about how MLB is failing to grow the sport with younger fans.
"As MLB, I think blackouts are killing the game," Harper said.
On that point, even Giants fans can agree.