Bryce Harper is demanding a contract that would be the biggest in Major League Baseball history — or the second-biggest, behind Manny Machado, depending on how it looks when all is said and done. But as of this writing, he still hasn’t gotten that contract yet, and New York Daily News sportswriter Bill Madden says there’s a reason for that — he’s not the best player in baseball, and as such, doesn’t deserve the best money in baseball.
Without naming names, Madden says he took an “informal poll” of a “dozen scouts and baseball executives” to find out where Harper ranks among the top active players in MLB, and Harper didn’t even make the top five. The general consensus is that the top players, in no particular order, are Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels), Mookie Betts (Boston Red Sox), Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies), Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians), and Jose Altuve (Houston Astros). Then Harper and Manny Machado in the same breath. A couple of Madden’s sources even put Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) and Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) before Harper and Machado.
Manny Machado, not for nothing, has signed a ten-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. That money is exactly the same amount that Harper is asking for, as a starting point.
My col: Bryce Harper may sign the least-satisfying nine-figure contract in the history of money. He's "free" yet without choices. He probably can't "go home" where he was wanted. He has himself & agent Scott Boras to thank. https://t.co/CFddavBd6U
— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) February 22, 2019
Meanwhile, the teams that keep coming up in conversation about where Harper might sign — the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies, as NBC Sports reports — aren’t the biggest-money teams in baseball, nor are they likely to be likely to be in playoff contention this season, according to Bleacher Report. The big-money teams — the Chicago Cubs, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees — all passed on Harper early in the free agency process. And that’s because they all realized that Harper just isn’t worth that kind of money, says Madden.
“Teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox didn’t think Harper and Machado were the best players in the game and thus worthy of record-breaking contracts.”
The Phillies are wasting their time pursuing Harper anyway, says Madden. Harper doesn’t want to play there, and the money they’d spend on him would be better spent spread out over less high-profile players with shorter contracts, such as Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.
Meanwhile, another anonymous source told Madden that the Phillies should be looking two years ahead when Mike Trout has the option of opting out of his Angels contract — that would mark the time to focus on giving him a blockbuster, decade-long deal. And when that time comes, Trout should get even more money than Harper is demanding — $400 million, to be exact, says the anonymous MLB executive.