At last weekend’s Cubs Convention, both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and third baseman Kris Bryant said, in so many words, that top free agent outfielder Bryce Harper wouldn’t be signing with the Cubs.
I think most of us pretty much knew that most of the offseason. It was true for various reasons, and I, at least, have moved on.
But we are approaching February and Harper is still unsigned. Rumors have connected him with many teams, including the team he’s played his first seven big-league seasons with, the Nationals. In December, the Yankees, a team that’s spent big money on free agents in the past, ruled themselves out:
The Yankees are continuing to speak with [Manny] Machado’s representative, Dan Lozano, believing that the 26-year-old infielder could be an ideal fit with shortstop Didi Gregorius expected to miss some of the 2019 season, but Cashman said on Monday that the club has bowed out of the Harper sweepstakes.
”We don’t have an [infinite] amount of dollars to be playing with in any marketplace,” Cashman said. “We’re looking for a starter now; it was two, now it’s down to one. We’re looking for, how do we address the loss of Didi Gregorius? And we’re looking for our bullpen. At no time all winter have I said that I’m looking for an outfielder. The Harper stuff, I’m surprised you’re still asking.”
The Dodgers are widely rumored to be in on Harper, but the reality, according to major-league sources, is that they do not want him on a long-term, record-setting contract. A short-term deal with a high average salary and opt-outs might hold more appeal, but such an agreement likely would create luxury-tax issues for the Dodgers in 2019, and the team already has too many outfielders.
Meanwhile, this was written January 2:
According to a person with direct knowledge of Harper’s process, the 26-year-old and his agent, Scott Boras, met with Nationals owner Ted Lerner for five hours on the Saturday before Christmas. Asked to confirm that this meeting happened, multiple people with the club refused to do so, a departure from their relative openness about their status with Harper this winter.
Obviously, nothing has come of that (so far, anyway) and that was so long ago that the writer, Chelsea Janes, isn’t covering baseball anymore, having moved on to the Washington Post political beat.
The Phillies -- led by owner John Middleton -- met Saturday with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, as the team’s chase for a superstar led them to Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas.
The meeting ended as expected without Harper’s signing a contract, yet there are still ways for both parties to label it a success. Harper met with Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak, and manager Gabe Kapler for a few hours on Saturday afternoon before the Phillies’ contingent flew back to Philadelphia. The Phillies, according to a source, remain optimistic that they will end the offseason with either Harper or Machado on their roster.
Now we’re 12 days past that report and Harper is still unsigned. Wednesday, a “mystery team” was identified:
Not sure if it qualifies them for “Mystery Team” status, but the Padres have checked in w/ Machado, Moustakas, Marwin and yes, Harper. Their plan is to shoot for 2020, and no word yet they’ve made offers to any of the 4, but they could move up the timetable with one big buy.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 23, 2019
I can’t see the Padres doing this, but you never know.
At this point, my feeling is that Harper is going to wind up back in Washington. Perhaps the player and team revisit the reported 10-year, $300 million offer that was reportedly on the table not long after free agency began, or maybe Harper signs a one-year deal and goes back to free agency again next offseason, though there’s no guarantee the frozen free-agent market will thaw any time soon.
Now it’s your turn. Whose uniform will Bryce Harper be wearing when the 2019 season opens March 28?
Bryce Harper will sign with the...
This poll is closed
A different team (leave in comments)