The long awaited 2018-19 MLB Offseason has finally reared it’s head — feelings of anticipation, excitement, and endless possibility permeate the air. Will your team sign the pieces they need to win their division, their league, or even a championship?
Within this segment, we’ll be breaking down the careers of the top Free Agents on the market. How did they get here? What makes them so enticing to teams? Where could they end up? Let’s find out.
Today, we’re taking a look at perhaps the most highly anticipated Free Agent of the entire offseason: Bryce Harper.
Free Agent of the offseason…
Bryce Aron Max Harper, a 26 year-old Nevada native, took the baseball world by storm when he entered the league at just 19 years-old on April 28 of 2012, first appearing with the Nationals, who took him first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. Harper wasted no time in making a name for himself, slashing a solid .270/.340/.477 with 22 big flies in 139 games. He followed this success up with two more relatively consistent years which each turned out similar numbers — but then 2015 rolled around. Harper exploded in his age 22 season, slashing an incredible .330/.460/.649 while belting 42 long balls and turning in an astonishing 1.109 OPS paired with a 198 OPS+. Harper immediately asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with, flashing his proper talent for all the world to see.
So, what is it exactly that makes Bryce Harper of such high demand? Sure, his numbers have been impressive from time to time, and yes, he’s young with a drive for greatness, but is that all really worth upwards of $30 Million in annual value? In short, yes, but it’s not his numbers in prior years that entice teams so heavily, it’s what they could be in future seasons that make teams go crazy for guys like Bryce. Harper’s ceiling is, arguably, the highest of any player in all of baseball. He has all the tools, and certainly the confidence, to become one of the greatest players to ever grace the diamond, and teams know that. Therefore, you can guarantee that Harper will receive the most demand of any player on the market this winter, I’d put money on that.
Where can Harper land?
Speaking of teams, who all is interested in this Superstar talent? The first two teams that come to mind are the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies, both of which have money to spend, and have maintained interest in Harper for a long, long time. Philadelphia certainly has more money, but Saint Louis has more of a winning culture to their name. Another team that will be big players for Harper are the Washington Nationals, his former ball club. According to multiple reports, the Nationals extended Harper an offer following the last game of the season that was in the ballpark of $30 Million per year over 10 years, no opt-outs. Harper, apparently, denied this offer, and the two have yet to resume talks. That being said, it certainly stands to reason that the team will come back with a restructured offer in the near future. Teams with an outside shot on the generational Harper include the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are a bit strapped for cash, the San Francisco Giants, who lack a whole lot more than just a superstar outfielder, and the Chicago White Sox, who are looking to come back from a rebuild in style.
Harper is due to set records this offseason, and it will be extremely interesting to see where his talent winds up.
My Prediction: The Philadelphia Phillies, 11 years, $363 Million.