According to reports, the Padres are meeting with Bryce Harper today. The Padres have definitely been sending out mixed signals this off-season. The Padres opened their books earlier this month and said their debt has made it difficult to spend. Now, here they are meeting with a player who has already turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract.
Their posturing wasn’t exactly convincing argument given that their debt isn’t that onerous and last year they signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal. In case you weren’t paying attention to Eric Hosmer, (because why would you?) he was worth less fWAR than Aramís García, a September call-up. If the Padres could afford to pay a replacement level player $144 million, they can absolutely afford Bryce Harper, a player who is actually good.
Bryce Harper won’t be signing with the Giants. Unless he signs with the Nippon Ham Fighters because he’s fed up with stingy MLB owners and he wants to get out of a league that is absolutely heading toward a labor war, he’s going to go to a direct competitor.
According to Jon Morosi, the teams that are still in on Harper are the Padres, White Sox, Phillies, Nationals, and the Mystery Team. The Mystery Team could be anyone (except the Giants). There could be multiple mystery teams even. (We all know the Mystery Team is the Dodgers.)
It would be great if he went to an American League team because the Giants would only have to face him once every three years. It would be less good if he went to a team in the NL Central or NL East. The Giants would have to face him once or twice a season, but that would still be manageable.
It would absolutely stink if Harper went to another team in the NL West, even if it’s the Padres, nay, especially if it’s the Padres. The Giants have spent the better part of the last decade getting destroyed by Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, and they’re almost free of that. Goldschmidt is a Cardinal now, and Arenado has just one more year before he reaches free agency. The NL West really doesn’t need another superstar coming in and mashing dingers over McCovey Cove.
The Giants especially don’t need the Padres to get any better. The Padres are still somehow worse than the Giants, but San Diego is still going to go 12-7 against the Giants with at least one sweep this season. The games the Giants do win are all going to be 2-1 games that go 14 innings with a two-hour rain delay. If the Padres add Bryce Harper, they could go for a season-sweep.
The Padres are already better set up for success than the Giants are. The Giants have two prospects in the MLB Pipeline’s top-100 and that feels like a lot. The Padres have 10. 10! That includes the second-best prospect: Fernando Tatis Jr. The next generation of Padres is going to be legitimately good, and if they add Bryce Harper, the Giants could go for years without beating the Padres.
The only consolation to the Padres hypothetically signing Bryce Harper is that the Dodgers wouldn’t have signed him. As bad as it would be for the Padres to get him, it would be exponentially worse for the Dodgers to pick him up. Even if the Dodgers haven’t gotten worse this offseason, there’s no one in the NL West to challenge them. Bryce Harper could help the Dodgers end their three-decade-long World Series drought, and that would be much worse than the Giants getting stomped by the Padres for the next decade.
Bryce Harper signing with the Padres isn’t the worst-case scenario, but it would still suck eggs. The Padres are annoying enough even with all their best players in the minors. They don’t need to be adding anyone else.