Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press
Bryce Harper is a 26-year-old with six All-Star selections, a Rookie of the Year and an MVP. Numbers-wise, he owns 184 career home runs and a .900 OPS.
With a player like this, the question is less about who wants him and more about who can afford him. To this end, “The Field” might as well sit this one out.
The Cubs don’t necessarily need an outfielder, or any hitter of any kind, for that matter. Between that and their payroll situation, they’re not a natural fit for Harper.
Still, it sure seems like Harper wouldn’t mind playing with his good buddy Kris Bryant. And according to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs have implored Harper and agent Scott Boras to check in with them before signing an offer from elsewhere. To fit Harper in, they might be willing to cut payroll or just give him the money.
Los Angeles Dodgers
At least on paper, the Dodgers appear to be a better fit for Harper than the Cubs. They also seemed to open the door for him when they dealt Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood (and their salaries) to the Reds.
Yet, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Harper will end up in Hollywood. The Dodgers have become averse to long-term contracts under President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, they may also have designs on ducking the luxury tax for a few years. Moreover, they need a right-handed bopper more than a left-handed bopper.
Chicago White Sox
Between their wide-open payroll, their weak outfield and their need for a big draw to put butts in seats and eyes on screens, the White Sox are a better fit for Harper than some might think.
He may not be their first choice, however. As we’ll discuss soon, they seem to prefer Manny Machado. Beyond that, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score undermined a report from Passan by claiming the White Sox won’t offer a contract in excess of seven years. Unless that changes, they could have a hard time convincing Harper and Boras.
Passan’s report also mentioned that the Phillies are willing to do a 10-year contract for Harper, and there doesn’t appear to be any pushback against that. Such a deal would net him a suitable total guarantee, and it would place him with a team on the rise that plays in an extremely hitter-friendly home ballpark.
Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the only catch could be that Harper doesn’t particularly like Philadelphia. That may be neither here nor there if the Phillies ultimately make the best offer. Otherwise, he could go somewhere he’s more comfortable…
…Like, for instance, back home to Washington.
Just when it seemed the Nationals had moved on from Harper, they reportedly re-entered the picture around Christmas. To boot, Bowden reported that their last offer to Harper was for “much more” than the $300 million figure that was making the rounds earlier in the winter.
If all this is true, it would seem the Nationals care more about fielding a winning team than their luxury tax standing.