The chatter out of the Cubs Convention in Chicago last weekend, which oddly centered around another team’s player, had the baseball world once again pondering what the future holds for Washington Nationals’ right fielder Bryce Harper. Harper, 25, is set to hit free agency next winter unless he and the Nationals work out an extension before then. So will he end up playing home games in Wrigley Field in 2019 and beyond?
“That isn’t going to happen,” a source told FanRag.com’s Jon Heyman, as quoted Friday in another article looking at which teams could be in play for the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick when/if he hits free agency.
Why won’t the Cubs end up landing Harper, in Heyman’s source’s opinion? His source offered a few reasons, two of which Heyman shared.
Jason Heyward is currently locked up through 2023 (with opt-outs after 2018 and 2019 in his 8-year/$184M deal), which makes him difficult to deal if the Cubs wanted to trade him, plus khe is one of the best defensive right fielders around, even if he’s not producing as expected offensively, and the Cubs, Heyman writes, “... will want to sign long-term their own home-grown stars, including [Kris] Bryant, and they’ve been rather interested in trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold.”
So... if not Chicago?
Heyman lists Washington as an obvious option if Harper makes the decision to stay with the only organization he’s known as a professional, writing that, “[Harper] loves D.C. and the franchise, and Nats owner Ted Lerner has a history of working things out with agent Scott Boras.”
LA’s Dodgers are another potential suitor given their proximity to Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas, and the fact that, “[t]he Dodgers reset their luxury tax rate down to 20 percent by getting below the luxury-tax threshold this year (assuming they stay under it).” And former Nationals’ Team President Stan Kasten is in Los Angeles as well, so there is some familiarity there.
The Philadelphia Phillies, “may have the most money to spend,” Heyman adds, and the New York Yankees, Harper’s favorite team as a kid, “also have reset their luxury tax to participate in the biggest free-agent frenzy ever,” next winter.
When Nats’ General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters at WinterFest in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last month, he was asked about teams like the Yanks and Dodgers clearing payroll and setting themselves up to spend big in what’s going to be (arguably?) one of the more talented free agent classes ever next offseason.
“What do you think about your chances of not only [signing] Bryce, but some of the other big name free agents?” a reporter asked the Nats’ GM.
[ed. note - “Check out MASN’s Mark Zuckerman’s look at the Nationals’ payroll/luxury tax situation for a good sense of where Washington stands.”]
“I think that everyone positions themselves,” Rizzo explained. “Everyone’s got their long-term plans. We’re no different. We try to focus in on ourselves, we’ve got a strategy in place, we’ve got a game plan and a blueprint to be good for a long period of time, and that continues.”
Will that game plan include locking Harper up long-term? Harper’s said he has respect for players who stay with one team their entire career, and Rizzo’s talked often about the relationship he and Harper have developed since he scouted, drafted, and oversaw the outfielder’s rise to the majors.
So, enjoy Harper’s 2018 campaign, it should be a fun one, but where do you think he’s going to end up after the end of the coming season?
Where will Bryce Harper be playing in 2019?
This poll is closed
Los Angeles (NL)
New York (AL)
Other (Speculate away in the comments)