It seems like this story has been lingering on for years. Bryce Harper and the Nationals are traveling to Colorado for their last series of the season and the only thing that are on the mind of Nationals fans and baseball fans across the country is; is this the last time Harper will be wearing a Nationals uniform? There are many different scenarios and viewpoints in this predicament, and I will try to assess all of them as I explain where I think Bryce Harper will be playing in the 2019 season.
Harper had a very slow start to the season but picked up his pace and has had his first 100 RBI season of his career as Harper tried to carry Washington, who were one of the biggest disappointments in baseball as they did not reach the postseason for the first time since 2015. With that, Harper’s name was floated around in trade talks nearing the trade deadline as the Nationals entered fire sale mode as they traded away Daniel Murphy, Ryan Madson, Gio Gonzalez, and Matt Adams. With Harper sticking around through the end of this season, Washington’s front office has come to a fork in the road; to the right, a future with Bryce Harper, and to the left, a future without him.
Reasons to keep him:
Obviously, you want to keep him because he is one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and a solid fielder in the outfield with a cannon of an arm. He has been the cornerstone of the Nationals’ franchise ever since he made his debut back in 2012. He is one of the only reasons Washington has filled the stadium for years and has become one of the best teams in baseball. Bryce Harper is the only true superstar the Washington Nationals have ever had. Yes, they acquired Max Scherzer and he has won multiple Cy Youngs as a National, but there is a different feeling about Harper to the fans; due to the Nationals drafting him, not trading for him. Any franchise would want to keep their #1 pick who has grown to be one of the best players in the game, but this decision has become a lot harder than it should be.
Reasons to let him go:
There are more reasons to let Bryce Harper go than you think. With this season ending the way it did for Washington there have been holes exposed on their roster which they need to address this off-season. They have holes in the starting pitching, bullpen depth, 2nd base, and at catcher. If they sign Harper to a $300 million contract, they won’t have money to address those needs, and will be tight on money to resign budding stars, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner. If they do sign him they could make a trade for a pitcher, or stud infielder or catcher for top prospect, Victor Robles. However, if the Nationals let Bryce go, then the Nationals could have one of youngest, cheapest outfields in baseball that has an extremely high potential with; Soto, Eaton, and Robles, with Michal A. Taylor on the bench. I can’t say that the Nationals will be better without Bryce Harper, but the Nationals are in a strange situation where they could afford to let their superstar go.
To me, the Nationals are one of the top 5 landing spots for Bryce, just for the fact that I think he would take a team friendly deal for the Nats. I’m not saying he would take less money, but he would pull a Tom Brady, and take a lot of bonuses and back money with a lower salary hit, saving the team in taxes. If not however, and the Lerner’s don’t match his demands the other top 4 teams are the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, and the Cubs. The Yankees of course because the Yankees go after every and any big name on the market. Harper grew up as a Yankee fan, modeling his number after his favorite player, Mickey Mantle, (34, 3+4=7). The Phillies make sense because they have a young, talented roster with the money to sign Harper to a huge contract, practically matching any number he asks for. Next the Dodgers have modeled their team the last 5 seasons or so by spending a lot of dough; throwing around more money than any other team in baseball. If there is a big name on the market, the Dodgers have been in the mix for them. The Cubbies have been rumored to be one of the top suitors for Harper for multiple seasons now as Harper’s friendship with Cubs’ 3rd basemen Kris Bryant has been well documented. Also, they are one of the top teams in baseball and Harper wants to win a ring.
Bryce Harper is taking his talents to LA. The Dodgers I think can give Harper the best overall combination of money, winning, and lifestyle. I think the Cubs and Yankees talk has been over-hyped, as both teams have arguably the 2 deepest lineups in baseball and I don’t think are looking to spend another $300 million or so on a single player. As a Nationals fan as well, I don’t see Harper doing the Nationals dirty and staying in the division with Philly; and I don’t think the Lerner family will hand out the type of money that agent Scott Boras is looking for and the front office will turn to a future without Bryce Harper. Harper has always been a west coast guy and I think all the arrows point to Los Angeles. I think Harper will look pretty comfortable in Dodger Blue.