This is the time of year when we sit back and think about all the things we’re thankful for in our respective lives. Although it hasn’t actually happened yet, I’m assuming current free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper will eventually be thankful for the next contract he signs.
Whether he ends up breaking a record or not, the six-time All-Star and 2015 National League MVP is about to get paid handsomely to play baseball. He, like fellow free-agent Manny Machado, is in a unique situation due to hitting the open market as just a 26-year-old. Despite not coming close to his production from that MVP campaign over the past three years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a big-league club that wouldn’t want this guy in the middle of their lineup. If Harper resigns with the Nationals, you can rest assured that fans will be excited to bet on Washington on winningsportsbets.co.uk and other online sports books.
Harper struggled at the plate through the first half of 2018 but rebounded in a big way after the All-Star break. The left-handed slugger still managed an .889 OPS, 135 wRC+, and 3.5 fWAR off the strength of 34 home runs, 100 RBI, and 103 runs scored in 695 plate appearances.
The offseason is young and it’s still to be determined what Harper’s true market will be moving forward. However, we can take some educated guesses off what’s been heard in the rumor mill, and which teams can conceivably handle a $300-plus million contract.
Each winter, there are a handful of teams everyone is curious to follow. The Phillies were already one of those teams, as a surprising first half led them to be buyers at the non-waiver trade deadline before completely falling apart down the stretch.
Team owner John Middleton only added to Philly’s winter intrigue by saying the organization is ready to spend and “maybe be a little bit stupid about it.” With incredible talents like Harper and Machado on the open market, that has to be music to the ears of fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Phillies have enough financial flexibility and spending power to make more than one big splash. When specifically thinking about Harper, there isn’t a whole lot that needs to happen for him to have a spot on the roster.
Nick Williams and his 1.0 career fWAR through 223 big-league games is currently penciled in as the starting right fielder. The outfield alignment will potentially be shifting anyways if Philly can find a taker for Carlos Santana, which would enable Rhys Hoskins to move back to first base.
At this point in the winter, the question doesn’t appear to be if the Phillies will get Harper or Machado. It’s more like: which one will they get, and could they get both?
San Francisco Giants
This isn’t shocking, but the Giants need some help on offense. They finished with a team wRC+ of 82 this year, which was the worst in baseball. That happened after prioritizing offense last winter since they finished tied for last in the same department in 2017.
San Francisco’s outfield production was especially putrid, slashing .238/.307/.363 with an 84 wRC+ and 0.1 fWAR as a group. Steven Duggar will most likely get an opportunity to play center field every day, but the corner spots could be up for grabs with Mac Williamson and Gorkys Hernandez penciled in at the moment.
Although the organization showed a willingness to take on a huge contract last year by pursuing Giancarlo Stanton, that front office regime is gone. Farhan Zaidi is the new president of baseball operations, and it’s yet to be determined if he’d want to immediately put a financial commitment like this on the books. After all, it’s not like the Giants are one player away from competing in the National League West.
The need for Harper’s bat is certainly there, but we won’t know if the Giants will be seriously interested until there’s a clear view on their plan moving forward.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.