Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is expected to be one of the most coveted free agents after the 2018 MLB season. While we are still several months away from free agency, a number of teams are already being linked to the 25-year-old veteran.
Returning to the Nationals is still not out of the picture, but Harper is expected to consider other options first before committing to Washington. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, and New York Yankees are among the favorites to sign the right fielder in the offseason.
The Dodgers are first on the list, and top free agents are expected to consider them because of the attractive Los Angeles market. Heyman pointed out that the Dodgers are in a good position to add a lucrative contract to their books after they re-set their tax rate. Los Angeles could use their cap space to pursue a top-tier free agent like Harper, especially if they decide to move on from Clayton Kershaw, who could also hit the free-agency market.
San Francisco is also in the mix. The Giants aggressively tried to trade for Giancarlo Stanton, but the superstar slugger was dealt to the Yankees. They could make up for their failure to acquire Stanton by going big after this season, and signing Harper will likely be their top priority. San Francisco has the money to get a superstar with Andrew McCutchen going off their books after the season.
Harper is also expected to receive a strong offer from Atlanta because the Braves have the resources and are in need of a right fielder. Heyman also pointed out that the Braves are tipped to spend after several seasons of saving up. Their current pitching corps might also be enough to make Atlanta an attractive destination for free agents.
The Yankees, as expected, were also on the list because they have long been linked to Harper. New York will have the needed cap space to make room for the five-time All-Star. However, spending a huge chunk of their money for Harper does not make a lot of sense because they already have Stanton and Aaron Judge. The 2015 National League MVP will not come cheap, as he could get a deal over $400 million, according to Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media.
Harper is off to a strong start this season, averaging.286 with four home runs and nine RBIs in his first seven games for the Nationals. The Nevada native averaged.319 last season with 29 homers and 87 RBIs. He is playing in the second season of his two-year, $35.25 million contract, and is set to earn $21.63 million this year, according to Spotrac.