Bryce Harper
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Report: Giants to offer short-term deal to Bryce Harper

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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.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.