With free agency now in full-swing, much of the speculation surrounds where Bryce Harper will sign his next contract. Rumors are rampant, and everyone seems to have an opinion on which destination makes the most sense.
The Nationals reportedly made a $300 million offer at the end of the season in what some skeptics might say was a move by ownership to save face if and when he signs elsewhere. They have now given all the other teams the floor to bid from at $300 million for 10-years as Harper was said to have turned down the reported 10 year 300 million dollar deal with no opt-outs only weeks before testing the open market. They simply wanted to appear that they made a fair attempt at retaining the 26-year-old MVP. I personally believe that Rizzo and the Lerners would much rather use that money to address a variety of other needs (catcher, second base, another starting pitcher and relief pitchers).
In a recent interview, Harper’s crafty agent, the notorious Scott Boras said, “We know who the team is. It’s already completed and done, but Bryce has told me that he wanted to tell you personally.” Afterwards, TalkNats reported that Boras was joking. The only team he could have come to an agreement at the time was the Nationals, but it was just a cruel joke on Nats fans.
The latest betting odds released by the popular sportsbook, Bovada, have the Philadelphia Phillies as the favorites to land Harper’s services. The Phillies certainly have the money and a budding crop of young talent where this move makes sense. Is Harper more motivated by the money or the prospect of winning a World Series sooner than later? If it is more so the latter then he will likely lean towards the second betting favorite, the Chicago Cubs, or a return to the Nationals. Both teams are arguably the most ready to win now out of the top four betting favorites.
MLB Free Agency Odds (via Bovada) Bryce Harper
- Phillies +100
- Cubs +300
- Nationals +400
- Giants +750
- Yankees +800
- Dodgers +850
- Red Sox +1500
- Angels +1500
Don’t expect any answers from Harper’s social media accounts. The 26-year-old devout Mormon heeded his Church’s call to give up social media for 7 days. He announced the brief hiatus via Instagram which has only caused more speculation and anxiety amongst Nationals fans. That hasn’t stopped Boras from doing what he does best and stirring the pot. On Tuesday during a spot on MLB Network Radio Boras discussed the possibility of Harper playing first base, “He takes ground balls there all the time in the offseason. He can help a team in many ways.”
This seems to be less than cryptic to the Yankees who have a plethora of talent in the outfield with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and the likes of Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and possibly Jacoby Ellsbury providing depth. Harper would certainly step right in and takeover for first baseman Luke Voit if the Yankees decided they wanted Harper.
The Nationals bolster a deep and promising outfield themselves that may prove to be quite serviceable even without Harper. The emergence of Juan Soto and the promise of Victor Robles make me confident that we will comfortably survive the post-Harper era. Adam Eaton will provide veteran leadership and Michael A. Taylor or Andrew Stevenson could round out the group with depth. I will forever greatly appreciate all the memories but I think I would much rather allow Rizzo the flexibility to work the massive Harper deal into a crop of talent at multiple positions rather than one player.