Giants meet with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that multiple members of the Giants front office met with Bryce Harper this week. That includes team Chairman Larry Baer, President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi and Manager Bruce Bochy. The meeting took place in Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas.

The Giants, who are in a transitional period following 98 and 89-loss seasons, have not committed to a full-blown rebuild like some losing teams have, but their recent hiring of Zaidi at least suggested that they would take a slower approach as they attempt to return to contention. As it is, their only offseason additions this winter have been Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz and Pat Venditte, which is not exactly a case of the Giants setting the world on fire.

Still, Harper is a generational talent and, assuming the Giants’ timetable is only a couple of years rather than, say, five years, it would make a lot of sense for them to be interested in a player like Harper to build around. Or retrench around. Whatever you wanted to call it.

As for Harper, whether he’d be interested in going to San Francisco is an open question. It’s certainly a great baseball town with an ownership group which has shown it likes to spend money. The issue is whether he’d want to go to a place where, at least for the short term, the road to contention seems rocky.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.