Rumors regarding the New York Yankees and their possible free agent acquisitions are heating up, but the biggest news may be a few years away. While Yankees’ fans have been confused on why the club has not signed any free agents this offseason, the future may be very bright for a team that has hit a wall in recent years. Current Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, and the Yankees, like every team in MLB, would do just about anything to sign the young slugger.
As Yahoo Sports reports, the Yankees plan may be to conserve enough cap space in order to be able to offer Harper a huge contract when he hits free agency in 2018. If Harper does not sign an extension with the Nationals before he becomes a free agent, he is going to receive offers from just about every single team in the league. While the majority of teams have no shot at landing Harper, the Yankees are a more than possible destination for the 3x All-Star.
Everything is going to hinge on if Harper really wants to be with the Nationals. In 2014, fellow superstar Mike Trout re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for six years and $144.5 million, according to ESPN. For a player that could have waited a few years to become a free agent and signed a much larger deal, the Angels are getting Trout at a bargain price.
Trout is not Harper though, and Washington is not Los Angeles. While the Nationals have been a great team in the regular season lately, their core is getting older. They have not played up to expectations in the playoffs, and they may be looking at a few rough years as the older players like Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman continue to decline. While the New York Yankees have not been to the World Series since 2009, their rich history of winning and consistently putting out competitive teams may be enticing to Harper.
Harper may also be looking to get the biggest possible contract, as opposed to Trout taking a deal that was friendly to his team. Valued at $4 billion, the Yankees could be one of only a few teams in position to offer Harper the deal in excess of $250 million that he will be seeking. Harper will only be 26-years-old in 2018 when he hits free agency. This is much younger than most players when they finally become free agents, so the Yankees’ risk would be much lower.
While paying big money to free agents has helped the Yankees win World Series titles in the past, recent bloated contracts on aging players has not led to the success that the team demands. For a franchise like the Yankees, six years without a World Series appearance is an eternity. Fans are already taking to Twitter to announce their excitement about Harper possibly becoming the cornerstone to their franchise in 2018.
Others are not exactly excited about the prospect.
As Yahoo Sports notes, Harper would be in the prime of his career for much of the contract, but he would not come cheap.
“His age – and the ability to cull prime years from a free agent, a rarity – is as much of a selling point as his ability. And Harper’s transformation from enfant terrible to the most marketable player in baseball by a large margin fits the Yankees’ ethos. Star power matters to the Yankees more than any other team. How much they’re willing to pay for their ideal fit is the question. Presuming Harper plays at a similar level for the next three years, his contract floor will be $400 million – a number, surely, at which the Washington Nationals won’t balk in their efforts to keep Harper in their uniform for his entire career. Their presence creates the prospect of a bidding war, and the idea that Harper skips $400 million altogether and aims for a half-billion-dollar deal is not altogether far-fetched.”
While 2018 may seem like a long way away, it is really not that far off in baseball years. A lot can happen over the next few seasons, but the New York Yankees’ interest in Bryce Harper is only likely to increase as he continues to develop as a player. Rumors will continue to swirl regarding Harper’s 2018 destination, and the Yankees may end up being the team that eventually lands him.
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