The Padres are relative newcomers to the ongoing Bryce Harper/Manny Machado free agent saga, but they’ve already started to make things interesting. On Saturday, two days after their reported meeting with Harper in Las Vegas, they let slip to Fancred’s Jon Heyman that they might be leaning toward offering the 26-year-old outfielder a contract rather than continuing their pursuit of shortstop/third baseman Machado.
On one hand, Heyman revealed, the Padres’ ownership recognizes that they have a clear “business/marketing opportunity” with Harper, something that may prove even more valuable than the .249/.393/.496 batting line and 3.5 fWAR he already brings to the table. That’s certainly the kind of attitude that’s expected from any team weighing the pros and cons of a long-term, $400+ million contract offer, even if, as Craig noted on Thursday, it would take some roster reshuffling to fit Harper into San Diego’s current outfield configuration. For what it’s worth, the Padres’ brass was said to be “extremely prepared” and “seemed sincere about wooing [Harper]” during their meeting on Thursday, though it doesn’t appear that any kind of deal is imminent.