The market for free-agent megastar Bryce Harper continues to be one of the more unpredictable storylines in Major League Baseball this offseason.
On the cusp of earning the largest contract in the game’s history, there has been no shortage of suitors for the 26-year-old outfielder, as he’s been linked to the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees since the 2018 season’s end.
While his fellow highly-touted free-agent peer Manny Machado is expecting to make a decision on where he’ll be heading to after New Year’s Day, the Harper sweepstakes have seen the interests of teams peak and valley.
Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Dodgers
On Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers continued their pursuit to become the favorite for Harper after trading away Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds in what can only be described as a salary dump. With the move, the Dodgers saved approximately $17 million off their luxury-tax payroll for the 2019 season and make them even larger contenders for Harper’s signature.
The two-time defending National League champions have still yet to win a World Series since 1988. Acquiring Harper will at least continue to keep them in the conversation of NL contenders for the foreseeable future.
Bryce Harper and the Chicago Cubs
Sunday saw a report from Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times disclosed that the Cubs, another team that has been speculatively linked with Harper this offseason, told the All-Star’s agent, Scott Boras, “wait before accepting an offer from another team until the Cubs had a chance to try to move some payroll off the books.”
The Cubs have spent this offseason seeing the NL Central-rival St. Louis Cardinals reload by acquiring Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller. With the Milwaukee Brewers coming off a breakout year in 2018, the Central is quickly becoming one of the best divisions in the majors. Signing Daniel Descalso might not be enough to keep the Cubs on pace with either team.
What about Bryce Harper and the Mets?
Meanwhile, New York Mets fans and analysts alike have been screaming for their team to get in on the Harper action.
Under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets have shed the label of inactivity this offseason after trading for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz before signing Jeurys Familia and Wilson Ramos.
However, all remains quiet on the New York front as the Wilpon family, the team’s owners would never allow Van Wagenen to splurge on a superstar whose contract is going to be north of $300 million.
The frugality is only going to limit the Mets, who will rue the day when they opted not to go for a superstar talent entering his prime if they miss out on a competitive, but winnable NL East crown.