Since he was called up in 2012, the baseball world waited for the day Bryce Harper would be a free agent. Well, the time has come, and Harper is in line to get at least $300 million, if not $400 million. The 26 year old only had a 1.3 WAR last season, but the fact that he put up a .889 OPS in a down year shows the generational talent he is. Let’s take look at the top five suitors for the 2015 NL MVP.
*Harper’s projected contract for each team will be 10 years/$300 million
#5 Washington Nationals
Let’s start off by looking at the the team that drafted Harper first overall and developed him into the superstar he is today- the Washington Nationals. Washington already made a contract offer to Harper worth $300 million for 10 years, but Harper decline it. Now, it didn’t include any opt-outs nor a no trade clause, so this doesn’t mean the Nationals are out on Harper. After all, general manger Mike Rizzo has a clear affection for Harper and won’t let him leave without a fight. Still, it doesn’t look like Harper fits with the Nationals long-term. Washington has his replacement already waiting in Victor Robles, who is a five-tool player that has a great chance of becoming a superstar. Signing Harper would block Robles and take up $300 million, which is money they could use to address more important needs: catcher, second base, starting pitching, bullpen help. With Robles ready to make an impact, why should the Nationals rob themselves of addressing these needs? If they don’t resign Harper and fill those holes, they’ll be an even better team that they would be if they simply resigned him. It’s going to be tough for Rizzo and Nationals fans to move on, but it’s what’s best for the franchise moving forward. Still, Rizzo may overlook that and still resign Harper; his contract offer shows he clearly wants to keep him.
Fit: 7.4/10 Need: 7.3/10 Chance it Happens: 8.6/10
#4 Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been interested in Harper before. In fact, they tried to trade for him at both the non waiver trade deadline, and the waiver trade deadline. The need for Harper became obvious in the playoffs, where the offense struggled mightily, especially with runners in scoring position. They also are relying too much on platoons, and could use another everyday star in their lineup. Still, should the Dodgers even pursue Harper. There’s been comparisons of Harper joining the Dodgers to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors. Like with Durant, the idea would be that Harper would take a really good team in the Dodgers, and turn them into an unstoppable force. Yet, that was the same idea when Los Angeles acquired Manny Machado at the trade deadline, and that didn’t work out. Might the Dodgers think twice before going all in for another superstar? President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman has always been reluctant to spend big money in free agency. In fact, his biggest contract given out was a $80 million extension for closer Kenley Jansen. At the same time, Los Angeles showed a willingness to go all in with Machado, so they can’t be counted out if they have to opportunity to bring Harper to Hollywood.
Fit: 8.2/10 Need: 8.5/10 Chance it Happens: 7.7/10
#3 New York Yankees
For years, it always seemed like a guarantee that the Yankees would sign Harper once he became a free agent. Yet, it’s been reported that they may look elsewhere in free agency. New York is currently much more focused on upgrading in the rotation, primarily with Patrick Corbin. Even if they lose those sweepstakes, they’ve also done extensive background work on Machado. Still, these are the Yankees, and they can’t be counted out on anyone. New York features an extremely right handed heavy lineup, and could use a power lefty to balance it out. They also have a long-term hole in the outfield, as Brett Gardner would be in line to start in left field on opening day but at age 35 he’s more of a fourth outfielder. Even if they were to leave their rotation the way it currently stands, it’s still good enough to win a championship with the addition of James Paxton. If New York has the chance to sign Harper, who idolizes Mickey Mantle and would reportingly love to play for the Yankees, there’s no doubt that they’ll take advantage of the opportunity to add yet another superstar to their stellar lineup.
Fit: 8.4/10 Need: 8.2/10 Chance it Happens: 8/10
#2 St.Louis Cardinals
After barely missing the playoffs in 2018, the Cardinals have now missed the playoffs three years in a row. That won’t fly with an organization that always prioritizes winning over anything else. If they want to get back to the promise land in 2019, they need to boost their lineup to compliment a strong, young rotation. They’re also interested in adding a power lefty bat, and have been linked to third baseman Mike Moustakas. Moustakas would be great, but with an even bigger hole in the outfield, St.Louis needs to get serious and needs to go all out for Harper. The Cardinals lineup relied too heavily on leadoff man Matt Carpenter, while no one else made a significant impact. Harper would not only solve that issue, but he’d give St.Louis the superstar they’ve been lacking since Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. Not many big-time free agents would want to go play in the mid west, but Harper may be an exception. As a student of the game, he may appreciate the Cardinals’ history of winning, and overlook where he’s living to go to the right franchise. He also may be attracted to the Cardinals’ young core, who needs a veteran stud to tie it all together. Harper is that man, and while St.Louis is currently only monitoring his market, they should emerge as major suitors as his market develops.
Fit: 8.9/10 Need: 9/10 Chance it Happens: 7.8/10
#1 Philadelphia Phillies
As appealing as any of the other suitors are, the Phillies may blow all of them away. Unlike big market teams in the Yankees and Dodgers, they seem to be the most willing to give Harper the $400 million deal that Harper is asking for. Unlike the Cardinals, the Phillies also play in a big market in Philadelphia. This is the best combination of playing in a big market and being willing to spend, and Harper will also get the opportunity to stay in the division he has dominated in. The Phillies also have a young core headlined by Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola and have the financial flexibility to build a contender around Harper. They also play in an extremely hitter friendly park, unlike the Dodgers and Cardinals. Not only do the Phillies make sense for Harper, he also makes sense for them. Philadelphia ranked just 22nd in runs scored and OPS, and desperately need a left handed power bat in the middle of the order. Assuming Hoskins gets moved back to first base, they also have no one locked into the outfield, so the need for Harper is obvious. He’s also a tremendous fit for a team that has been rebuilding for quite some time, and broke out last season. Unfortunately, they ran out of gas and finished just 80-82, but they’re heading in the right direction and would definitely contend for the playoffs if they signed Harper. Even if they don’t make it to the playoffs next season, Harper at 26 years old is a perfect fit for this young Phillies team, as he will also still be in his prime by the time those young players develop and the Phillies add pieces around Harper. Harper and the Phillies are perfect for one another, and it may only be a matter of time before the two parties come together to start the creation of a super team in Philadelphia that could be unstoppable if built properly.
Fit: 9.6/10 Need: 9.4/10 Chance it Happens: 9/10