Ahead of next offseason, a number of teams have been linked to upcoming MLB free agent Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are two National League contenders mentioned in speculation. MLB rumors have suggested that the New York Yankees could even try to land him. However, it's looking more like it will become a two-team race when it comes to signing the star player next MLB season. Here's the latest on Bryce Harper's situation with the Nationals and his potential move to another team in 2019.
Harper will clearly become one of the top free agent targets in the next offseason, along with the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado. A good number of teams will be bidding for their services and campaigning for these players. In a recent ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast episode, Buster Olney discussed the impending MLB free agency for Harper. He's helped Washington maintain their spot in the NL as a contender these past seasons, and most likely the team wants to keep him on board. However, Olney believes the Philadelphia Phillies could also have a shot at landing the MLB free agent. An NJ.com report estimates that bids for Harper could be as low as $400 million next winter. Still, Olney feels it's only going to be a two-team race for the star, one of which is his current team.Olney said of the situation, "I would bet the family farm that Bryce Harper winds up with the Phillies or back with the Washington Nationals."
It's a strong bet from one of baseball's insiders. Adding fuel to the fire of the potential signing with the Phillies is the fact they recently added ace Jake Arrieta to their roster. As NJ.com's Joe Giglio reported, Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, also represents Harper and "hinted" that more big moves could be coming for this Phillies team. That's good news for their fan base, as the city of Brotherly Love recently added a first-ever Super Bowl title to their sports history books.
While Washington was a playoff contender, Philadelphia clearly was not anywhere near them. They finished in last place in the division with a 66-96 record. That was also second-worst in the National League. The team clearly can use a boost when it comes to batting, as they ranked 19th in total hits, 20th in batting average, and 27th in RBIs for all of MLB. Harper would add a career 0.285 batting average along with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs to the lineup. However, he's not ready to think about that, or at least talk about it.Philadelphia may not look like a contender, but with Arrieta on board, the attitude of the Phillies team is already changing ahead of this season. The team's new pitcher mentioned that he and the rest of the guys "intend to win right now," rather than being patient with some sort of rebuilding process. He'll bring a 3.57 career ERA with 1,070 strikeouts and an 88-56 win-loss record to the city. If they can show a strong bit of that winning potential, it could help attract Bryce Harper to their cause.
For now, teams will have to wait and watch as Harper does his work. That work will be done for the Washington Nationals, a team which will be able to make their best campaign for Harper to stay all season long. Still, don't count out the Phillies, a team that may be on the verge of improving by leaps and bounds.