SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the biggest free agency decision of the offseason finally was made, the Giants turned out to be just like the rest of us. Word spread from a cell phone.
Players were optimistic about the Bryce Harper chase as they left for the long drive to Maryvale on Thursday morning, but when they arrived at the home of the Brewers and began warming up, a coach saw the news that Harper would be signing with the Phillies. It quickly was passed on to the players on the field.
There was disappointment at first. Then there was a commitment to a previous goal.
"I really feel good about the guys we have here," Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said shortly after exiting the game. "I'm not just throwing out clichés, I really do believe that. It's time to win ballgames."
The Giants did win one, albeit a spring game. They beat the Brewers, 6-2, and the big blow was a two-run homer from Mac Williamson, who now could start in either outfield corner.
MAC-ATTACK! #SFGSpring pic.twitter.com/WZtmudxU8l— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) February 28, 2019
Williamson would have been fighting for the left field job had the Giants signed Harper. He said his outlook hasn't changed.
"Whether he came or not, it's the same for me," he said. "If I do really well, I've got a chance. If I don't, it hurts my chances."
Williamson went through the list of outfielders in camp and noted how many of them are swinging well early. The group is healthy, and the Giants are more optimistic than outsiders.
Still, they could have used Harper in the middle of their lineup, and after they publicly lobbied for him, players started to dream.
"It kind of sucks it wasn't us, but I think they made a good push for it," Belt said. "It's definitely good for him, it's good for the player. It's pretty good all the way around. I just wish it was for us."
The Giants offered Harper 12 years and $310 million, with a willingness to perhaps go a bit higher. He reportedly agreed to join the Phillies for 13 years and $330 million, which should make for interesting conversation Friday. The Giants will hold their annual meeting with the MLB Players Association, and it could be contentious.
Players are not thrilled with the way this offseason has gone, but Belt and pitcher Chris Stratton both said they were happy to see Harper set a new standard a few weeks after Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for $300 million.
"They're 26 years old and the best in the game, especially at that age," Stratton said. "They need to be paid what they're worth, so it's definitely huge for our game for them to be able to command that kind of money."
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Harper's massive deal did not land him in San Francisco, and there's little left on the market that could impact the lineup. But the players have spent all spring talking about surprising outsiders, and they're ready to rally around manager Bruce Bochy, who will retire at the end of the season.
"All told," Williamson said. "I think we have the pieces to do something special."