Photo courtesy of WikiMedia.
Bryce Harper is “custom-made” for Yankee Stadium. He is a lefty bat and the Yankees just happen to need lefty bats. Just look at the amount of righties in their lineup: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Luke Voit, 2B Gleyber Torres, 3B Miguel Andujar, RF Aaron Judge, DH Giancarlo Stanton. He’s also great at getting on base and is capable of batting well over .300. Harper also happens to be a generational talent and may actually be a better long-term investment than Judge, who I worry is too similar to Ryan Howard, a player with incredible power but a propensity for strikeouts and an increasingly lower batting average.
The more I think about it, the more it’s hard to find a different team that’s a better fit for team. Miami, Seattle, Oakland, San Diego, Arizona, Kansas City, Colorado, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Toronto can’t afford him. Washington are better off without him as they need to make room for Victor Robles and have too much guaranteed money on the books as it is. Texas is rebuilding (or should be), Detroit and Baltimore are definitely rebuilding. Houston doesn’t really have the room and need to save money for the rotation as almost the entire unit is hitting free agency this year and next. The Chicago White Sox have never spent this much on a player and are a rebuilding team.
Minnesota can afford him but they typically don’t give out such big contracts and they’re not exactly an attractive destination to free agents due to the weather. San Francisco may or may not be able to afford him but should be rebuilding and play in a pitcher’s park (which may be a problem for Harper). The Los Angeles Angels have a stacked outfield and need to save money for extending Mike Trout. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ current management hasn’t even given out a contract for over $100 million yet and seem to have a stacked outfield. Boston has the same outfield “problem” and need to save money for extending Chris Sale and Mookie Betts.
Does anyone believe that he’ll want to go to the New York Mets, or that they can even afford him? I’m not even mentioning that their outfield is already stacked as it is. St. Louis might be a possibility but they would probably need to get rid of Dexter Fowler’s contract first and they traditionally don’t give out record contracts. The Chicago Cubs have been rumored as a destination but they don’t have room for him. They’re very high on LF Kyle Schwarber and he’s finally making defensive improvements. Right field is occupied by Jason Heyward and his unmoveable contract, that loses more value upon his move to center field. Harper isn’t really a center fielder, so he doesn’t really fit in their outfield. He can’t even play first base, because it’s occupied by Anthony Rizzo, though he’s open to playing the position.
Atlanta has a vacancy in right field, but financially are unlikely to commit to a contract that Harper will command. This leaves the Bronx Bombers and Philadelphia as the most obvious destinations. What happens if Philadelphia signs Manny Machado? They almost certainly won’t want to give out two record contracts in one off-season and Machado fits them better. In other words, New York should sign Harper.
There are other lefty hitters that are potential fits for New York. Trade targets include David Peralta, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara, Scooter Gennett, and Odubel Herrera. There are also other free agent targets such as Daniel Murphy and Michael Brantley.
A quick note on qualifying offers… why did Houston not offer one to SP Charlie Morton? He produced a 3.5 rWAR and a 3.13 ERA (3.59 FIP) with a 10.8 K/9 rate in 167 innings in 2018. Would he really not have been worth a 1 year/$17.9 million contract if he would’ve accepted a qualifying offer? I know who doesn’t deserve that contract and that’s SP Hyun Jin-Ryu who has never topped 192 innings in a season. He pitched 82.1 this year, 126.2 last year and 4.2 in 2016 due to injuries. He was also not even close to an ace the last two seasons. With that track record, it’s hard to imagine a team giving up a draft pick for him. He sido is certainly not worth a $17.9 million AAV.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter @NeilfromNYC and in the comments.