The Chicago Cubs seemed primed to land the superstar outfielder who grew up with Kris Bryant and has dreamed of the two teaming up since little league. Unfortunately, that reunion now seems unlikely with Cole Hamels $20 million option being exercised by the Cubs. The real crime here is that the contracts preventing Harper to Chicago are mostly poor, highlighted by Yu Darvish ($20 million in 2019) and Jason Heyward ($22.5 million in 2019.) Tyler Chatwood will earn $12.5 million following a season in which he posted a 5.30 ERA in 103.2 IP.
While I still believe Harper’s first choice would be to reunite with his best friend Kris Bryant, it seems unlikely that the Cubs will be able to free up the funds to acquire his talent. His agent Scott Boras is not exactly known for taking a discount, and Harper appears to have the Lebron James superstar mentality that would lead me to believe he will try to break the bank and change the way MLB contracts are handed out. Harper will challenge the new age analytics loyalists that do not believe in overcommitting to one player by offering insanely high salaries and decade long contracts. At least one team will have to budge and go against the grain.
The Washington Nationals will be the team to pay up and get the face of their franchise back in D.C. This is somewhat of a hot take considering the Phillies are the sudden favorites and the Cubs are a fairly distant second according to Vegas. The Phillies have been “favorites” to land a lot of guys, like Machado at the trade deadline last season. Philadelphia is the hot team right now because they just started spending money and saw results. The Phillies will have interest and most likely make an offer, but I would not consider them the favorites.
Bryce Harper will remain in Washington because both sides would love to make that happen. The Nationals showed confidence when they decided not to trade Harper for a boatload of prospects at the deadline. Since then it has been reported that the Nationals made an “aggressive” offer on the last day of the season. The narrative has been that Harper rejecting that contract means he will no longer re-sign with the team. That is not what Harper is saying. Bryce Harper has been an icon since he was drafted first overall in 2010. Harper, Boras, and fans everywhere have been long awaiting the contract that Bryce Harper is going to sign. There was no offer that Washington could have made that close to free agency that Harper and Boras would have seriously considered. He wants to set the new record for a Major League Baseball contract, and Washington could step up to the plate as they have clearly shown the desire to bring him back. As for Harper, you cannot watch the most recent Home Run Derby and tell me Harper doesn’t bleed red, white, and blue, for his country’s capitol. That man would love to bring a championship to the District of Columbia.
Scott Neville – Head Baseball Writer – WTF Sports