With $400 million possibly waiting on the table at the end of the season, Bryce Harper is doing everything he can to prove he’s worth every penny of that massive contract. The figure is certainly astronomic, but the current market is telling that’s the amount of money a team needs to shell out in securing one of the game’s best sluggers.
As expected, big market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees, and the Chicago Cubs are viewed as potential suitors for the former National League MVP. The Washington Nationals are still favorites to retain the service of their big bat.
Veteran baseball writer David Schoenfield of ESPN believed more suitors will be lining up for Harper once he hits free agency, though he advised baseball fans to watch very closely on an NL West team that has the potential to become a sleeper team in the Harper sweepstakes.
The San Francisco Giants, who own the second biggest payroll in Major League Baseball at $208.5 million just behind the Boston Red Sox at $235.6 million per Spotrac, may have a legit shot at Harper next winter.
Schoenfield noted that the outgoing contracts of Andrew McCutchen ($12.2 million) and Hunter Pence ($18.5 million) would put the Giants in position to compete with other suitors in free agency.
“Nationals, Cubs, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers. Don’t sleep on the Giants. Corner outfielders Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen are both free agents, wiping off $33.25 million from the payroll.”
It has been four years since the Giants won the World Series, and the make-up of the team has significantly changed over the last four years. Former NL MVP Buster Posey remains the heart and soul of the team, but injuries and inconsistency have contributed to their sharp decline.
Landing the 25-year-old Harper would be a big boost for the Giants, who have been in the bottom five in total home runs across the MLB in the last three years. Harper hasn’t gone past 30 home runs since crushing 42 homers in his MVP season. However, the Nats star is on pace to record 65 homers this year after blasting six through the first 15 games.
Then again, things are expected to change between now and the start of free agency season. The likelihood of a blockbuster trade involving Harper is certainly out there. San Francisco may even go in a different direction, pulling off a trade for Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado instead of pursuing Harper.
As for the Yankees, Schoenfield thinks they are a long-shot destination because they already have power hitters in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Still, with Brett Gardner hitting free agency at the end of the season, it won’t be a surprise if Brian Cashman comes through with another huge deal next winter.