The Dodgers are wrapping up a quiet and steady off-season, but something prominent brews on the horizon. One of the largest free agent prizes to ever hit the market will do so after the 2018 season concludes. Bryce Harper is an icon in the game of baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are already being mentioned as a potential suitor. There are reasons that Harper in Dodger Blue would seem to hold water.
Many in the industry look at the Dodgers, with their future needs, their geography and especially their streamlined financial picture — as currently constructed, they will be under the luxury tax threshold in 2018 for the first time, after being over it, and paying the resulting penalties, in each of the past five years — and see a team poised to make a huge play for Harper, who grew up in Las Vegas and whose family typically travels to Dodger Stadium to see him play when the Nationals are in L.A.
Baseball experts expect the contract that Harper signs to surpass $400 million at a minimum. This would seem to go against the grains of general manager Andrew Friedman’s precedence. However, some of the moves that the Dodgers have made would seem to suggest they’re gearing up for more than a Clayton Kershaw extension in the winter of 2018.
The 2018 free agent class is shaping up as a “who’s who” of baseball superstars. Harper. Kershaw. Manny Machado. Nolan Arenado. Josh Donaldson. The list is going to be absolutely staggering.
But Harper remains the crown jewel. With every day that Harper’s free agency grows closer, whispers of him becoming a Dodger are sure to become louder. While the thought of signing Harper makes the majority of Dodgers fans drool, it may come at a cost greater than simple dollars.
As our own Brook Smith mentioned when I said I wanted to pen this article, major questions arise. For those ready to see Harper wearing a Dodger uniform in a year, consider the following:
- The Dodgers have a horde of outfielders. This is a young group with high upside. What are future plans for players like Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, and others if the Dodgers are going to sign Harper?
- Does signing Harper play into Clayton Kershaw’s opt-out? And would signing Harper possibly preclude Kershaw signing elsewhere? Would you (or the Dodgers) be willing to part with Kershaw to suit up Harper?
- Kershaw’s contract isn’t the only large figure the Dodgers will need to consider. Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, and other emerging young stars will have their own payday soon enough. The two aforementioned are represented by the same agent as Harper: Scott Boras. Boras doesn’t tend to give teams any leeway in negotiations.
The good news – or bad news in some eyes – is there are several other major suitors for Harper. Many believe that the Nationals are in position to offer Harper the best package both in financial terms and comfort. Harper has publicly expressed desires to play for the New York Yankees since his childhood, and the Chicago Cubs since last season. Several other big market clubs will do what it takes to feel out Harper’s team of representatives and make him their own. If there is interest deep inside of the Dodger front office, they’re not going to be alone.
Where Bryce Harper decides to play baseball in 2019 will be one of the most exciting storylines the game has seen. The Winter Meetings will be held in his hometown of Las Vegas, which is sure to bring out the media flock in droves. Options in life and in business are a good thing. The Dodgers have positioned themselves to have them in this regard.
The Dodgers have publicly stated that they’re satisfied building from within with a crop of homegrown stars of their own. I’m one who believes this is the proper way to go about building a clubhouse and team on the field. No one would be foolish enough to say the Dodgers don’t need Harper and his accumulated 27.7 fWAR in parts of six seasons. The wise may simply sense that a $400 or $500 million dollar contract for a new player is a Pandora’s Box waiting to be opened.
In a short time, the Dodgers will lift the curtain and show us the answers we await. We all need to hope it’s the right choice for the next decade.
[button color=”pink” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-off-season-recap-bc0887/2018/02/19/”]Recapping The Dodgers Off-season[/button]