With the San Diego Padres a late entrant into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes (can we call it “late” if we still have no sense of how close he is to signing) thanks to the perception of a weak market and a falling price, it would have been fair to presume they were more in the “looking for a bargain” mode than the “we are going to pitch the heck out of this guy” mode. But then, if you’re actually going to land a guy in this situation, especially if the price tag is falling, you’re really going to have to turn it on.
And apparently, the Padres did at their meeting this week.
Per the San Diego Union-Tribune: “Sources earlier in the day characterized the foray as something of extended due diligence. But a source familiar with what happened Thursday night said the Padres were extremely prepared and seemed sincere about wooing the 26-year-old Harper.”
So, they really want this guy. Or Manny Machado. And/or JT Realmuto. I say good for the Padres.
It does seem to confirm, though, that the state of the market for these guys is not simply “whoever offers $350 million gets the guy.” The prices probably just never got close to that level, and don’t figure to now. So if everyone is looking at that $200 million to $250 million range, maybe even a smaller market team can land a superstar if the money is around the top of the market, the lifestyle sounds right, and the future looks good. The Padres can offer all of that.
It was just a year ago that they surprised many and landed Eric Hosmer on a huge deal. I wouldn’t rule anything out.