The Giants may not be willing to meet Bryce Harper‘s 10-year, $300+ million asking price, but that doesn’t mean they’re unwilling to sign the 26-year-old this winter. The two sides met for a four-hour meeting in Las Vegas on Monday, after which club president Farhan Zaidi said there was “mutual interest on both sides,” then added, “You don’t make a trip out there to meet with a player just for show.”
According to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Sunday, the Giants are now positioning themselves to offer the six-time All-Star a hefty short-term deal, though any contract specifics have yet to be divulged. Nightengale points out that the Giants were all too eager to trade for Giancarlo Stanton — and his $265 million price tag — during the 2018 offseason, which might suggest that some financial flexibility exists for the right player. That fits with recent speculation from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who claimed that as many as eight teams were still pursuing Harper, more than a few of which would reportedly prefer to make a more modest commitment before Opening Day rolls around.
While there’s no reason to believe the Giants won’t make a serious offer to Harper, it’s also worth pointing out that similar optimism has followed each of the outfielder’s previous meetings this offseason. The Phillies were the reported favorites to land Harper after multiple discussions with the slugger, while the Padres were said to favor Harper over free agent Manny Machado in the days after their own face-to-face meeting with him. If Harper and agent Scott Boras truly have shifted their focus from the Phillies, Padres, Nationals, and White Sox (and any number of mystery teams) to the Giants, they’ll make their intentions known relatively soon.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.