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Weekend BP, 3/1-3/3/19

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Bureau Of Engraving And Printing Prints New Anti-Counterfeit 100 Dollar Bills Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Was going to do a proper post re: Bryce Harper’s 13-year deal, but then I saw last night that Farhan Zaidi will be holding a press conference today, presumably to talk about what did/didn’t happen and figured that would be the best time to get into it in more detail. Also, maybe he’ll have a surprise announcement like the signing of Carlos Gonzalez (to a minor league deal, of course).

For now, let’s just do a bird’s eye view of the thing:

That’s a lot more than I figured the Giants would ever offer him, mainly because it seemed to be playing right into Scott Boras’s hands — his plan being, of course, to simply use the Giants to gain bargaining leverage over the preferred team(s).

Then again, if the Dodgers ever were the actual target — although it’s not clear that was actually the case, there’s certainly plenty of circumstantial evidence like his childhood fandom and general proximity to that market to suggest that they were — it appears the team was never actually willing to engage with the Harper camp on any of their basic terms.

In terms of that California tax problem, I have some thoughts:

  1. Overall, California is a great state in which to live, especially if you can easily afford to;
  2. Baseball players get taxed at the rate applicable to the places in which they actually perform work. Not all of that $25.385 million would be taxed at California’s top rate of 12.3% (which actually breaks down as $55,697.38 + 12.30% of amount over $572,980, per the Franchise Tax Board). Yes, he’d play approximately 103 games in California every year (81 in SF, 2 in Oakland, and 18-20 in Los Angeles and San Diego), maybe a few more for whenever the Giants play the Angels, and with an average per game salary of $156,697.53, that’d amount to a total California income (before any endorsement deals) of just about $16.14 million. That’d be an annual tax bill of 1,970,421.86 in California. So, yeah, over the course of the deal, he’d pay about $26 million in California taxes alone, just based on his yearly salary.
  3. It doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think if a player really would rather play here. Of course, it’s still important to offer the best contract, but the Giants have done that before and it hasn’t closed the deal.

See? This isn’t some new thing.

If you read Andrew Baggarly’s coverage from last night, you’ll see that Farhan Zaidi was very active in — even driving — the Giants’ pursuit of Harper, a note that definitely struck me as a new thing with the organization and, more importantly, another stunner in this whole ordeal. And I do consider it an ordeal because it feels like the offseason was, in part, held emotionally hostage by the lengthy negotiations for the two 26-year olds on the market. It just made these past few months feel unnecessarily “extra”.

On top of all the machine learning that’s vaporized baseball free agency’s “middle class”, and a last of his kind closer looking to play by payday rules that haven’t existed in three years, we had to deal with all that will they / won’t they drama. I feel like we’d all be a lot more focused on what the Giants are doing right now if there hadn’t been that dangling 0.2% chance of the team buying a well-quaffed young distraction.

Bryce Harper is old news now. Let’s move on to the new news of the day: tonight is the Giants’ first telecast of the season. Madison Bumgarner will pitch! Buster Posey will catch! We will hear Jon Miller’s voice! It will be a grand Friday evening where we get to see the Giants play baseball and think, “Oh right. These guys.”