You haven’t heard as much speculation on one player’s possible free agency since LeBron James heading into the summer of the 2010 season, and yet over the last year, Bryce Harper’s pending free agency after the 2018 season is all that anyone can discuss.
We all know the story. Harper is going to be a free agent after the 2018 season and may set the Major League Baseball record for the highest contract ever. We also have wondered if the Washington Nationals were going to get Harper signed long-term and keep him off the open market in two winters.
That is up until now, it was all speculation on what Washington would do, but now, it appears that Washington won’t look to keep him, which Bob Nightengale of USA Today had reported at the MLB Winter Meetings.
The Nationals have been known for spending big-time money; Max Scherzer’s deal, Jayson Werth in the past. And they’re also reported to looking into trading for both Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen, so they aren’t strangers to chasing big-time players and paying them.
But even Washington is putting a curb on the spending, as they won’t meet Harpers’ reported demands of a 10-year, $400 million deal, which would surpass Giancarlo Stanton’s deal for the highest ever in the sport. So if the Nationals don’t keep him long-term, who emerges as the favorites for Harper when the winter of 2018 comes up?
The New York Yankees, of course.
After all, by that time, they’ll have over $100 million in payroll space to sign players, have a need for a major superstar and want to bring in a player whose adored the Yankees since his youth in Harper.
It’s no secret that Harper is a Yankee fan and has been caught at times admiring the team and everything around the Yankees whenever he’s in the Bronx. It also helps that he’s one of the best young players in the game and already has a National League MVP Award to his resume.
His swing seems like it’s made for Yankee Stadium with Harper being a left-handed bat and the short porch in right field, plus he could be the next big player to roam center field just like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio once did in the old Yankee Stadium.
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On paper, it seems like a match made for one another. The Yankees love stars and they love players who can sell tickets and bring fans to the ballpark. While the homegrown players are nice to have and winning will always help sell tickets, Bryce Harper will easily sell tickets in New York, just like when the arrival of Alex Rodriguez in 2004 helped sell even more tickets for the Yankees when they acquired him that winter.
And if there is one thing Hal Steinbrenner loves as much as winning its money. He’s a financial guru, always has been. A sold out Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis is something he always wants. Winning baseball will guarantee that the ballpark in the Bronx will be sold out. Having someone in the lineup like Harper would all but guarantee that Yankee Stadium would be sold out on a nightly basis to see the MVP swing for the fences.
Before the 2016 season, some said that Harper to the Yankees was “all but inevitable.” With the Nationals not looking to keep him long-term after the 2018 season, that speculation on Harper going to New York in 2019 might become even more realistic and turn a lot of fans dreams into that reality of seeing Harper don the pinstripes.