On Monday, Yahoo’s Tim Brown and Jeff Passan reported, with modest detail, upwards of a dozen teams descending on Las Vegas in advance of next week’s Winter Meetings. Their mission, to a one: Pitch woo at Bryce Harper, the 26-year-old megawatt star, with a contract covering, essentially, the rest of his playing days.
What ho, the Chicago White Sox are listed among the dozen!
The highest-arching of our 2018 offseason plans included some form of Bryce Harper contract, upwards of $400 million, if memory serves. Offseason South Side Sox plans transforming into Jerry Reinsdorf-backed reality seem to be Two Very Different Things, however.
Still, the White Sox are in the mix. Which means: We can write about it, and talk about it.
Reality check No. 1: The Los Angeles Dodgers sent Magic Johnson out to meet with Harper. The White Sox sent Jim Thome. Unless Harper was a huge Incredibles fan, not sure the South Siders are matching up.
Reality check No. 2: One of the main themes of the article, and the offseason pursuits of both Harper and Manny Machado, is the need to spend “stupid money” to secure either player. Jaime Navarro aside, “stupid money” is not synonymous with the White Sox.
But hey, let’s zoom in on the nine suitors identified by Yahoo, which allows us to disabuse ourselves of the notion that Harper is going to entertain thoughts of becoming a Minnesota Twin, or secretly wishes to be managed by Brad Ausmus in Anaheim. Maybe we can whittle each one of our competitors down to something smaller in stature than our beloved South Siders.
New York Yankees (40% chance of signing Harper)
Clearly, there are the Yankees, then everybody else, in this pursuit. Up-and-coming team? Check. Willing to spend? Check. Harper’s favorite team, the team he grew up dreaming of playing for? Check. Uh-oh.
Washington Nationals (15%)
This is probably too low, for Harper’s home team, the only one he’s ever known. Plus, if anything goes wrong — skeletons in his closet, a slip on the ice during one last trip to Sox Park, weird medicals, demanding all the brown M&Ms be removed from clubhouse candy dishes — the nasty Nats are an easy fall-back. As Brown/Passan write, Washington already knows everything the other suitors are trying to discover in the course of an hourlong meeting. Their toe-in-the-water offer was $300 million; not peanuts by any stretch. There could be a handshake agreement that Harper bring his best offer back to WDC for the team to match. Basically, it’s tough to bet against the home team. But then, the Nationals had months, if not years, to wrap Harper up — and they didn’t.
Chicago White Sox (12%)
Well, they sent Jim Thome. Oh, and, well, there is a lot of room in the budget. And the White Sox are on the come. If Harper is a serious student of the game and has read all of his Scott Boras prep about what Chicago offers, he’s going to look hard at the White Sox — and listen hard to Thome’s pitch, surely more earnest as the cornponiest elements of a Field of Dreams/The Natural/Bull Durham swirl. But with the White Sox, unlike the north siders, Harper can “own” Chicago, which is no small potatoes. I also don’t think Harper would mind at all moving to an American League team — with the chance to occasionally DH and heal wounds still swinging a bat — either.
Philadelphia Phillies (11%)
Just not sure it makes sense. I know, money rules. And the Seattle Mariners deal (where the Phillies sent Carlos Santana west) has the effect of welcoming Harper and perhaps closing the door on Machado. But still, Philadelphia, and the nastiest fans on the planet? Sure, these odds are too low, I suppose, but really, Bryce? Philadelphia?
Chicago Cubs (9%)
I guess there was a time they ranked somewhere up around the Yankees’ odds for Harper. But that was before the team, in the course of like a week at the end of 2018, suddenly looked shiftless, old, unmotivated, and penny-pinched. Given the mind-melds Theo Epstein has managed at times, you can’t count the north side bumblers out. The mega bromance between Harper and Kris Bryant could be another big pull for Harper. But it seems unlikely there’s enough money in the coffers, or room on the roster, for the crosstowners to make a serious bid.
San Diego Padres (6%)
Some circles count San Diego as a serious suitor for Harper. For what, a third vacation home? Future lost weekend dalliances over the border? C’mon, Harper is not playing in the glorified Triple-A media glare of Padres baseball.
Los Angeles Dodgers (4%)
Pfft. Dog and pony show. Sure, the Dodgers are great, but they have 8,000 outfielders already, a huge payroll, and their own colorful outfielder of a similar age, Yasiel Puig. No fit.
St. Louis Cardinals (2%)
Apparently, the Cardinals are just dying to add Harper to “Cardinals Nation.” If Harper falls for that “Cardinals Way” crap, whatever the clowniest accusations of him out there exist, I’ll believe.
Houston Astros (1%)
Harper really admires the Astros, or something? Good god. Enough Houston worship. It doesn’t seem there’s mutual interest, and the Astros do have bigger gaps for fill than $400 million outfielder.
So, yeah, we’re still probably a month away from Harper making a decision, but that can be a month spent earnestly dreaming. Where do you think Harper ends up landing?
Where will Bryce Harper sign?
This poll is closed
One of the other 21 teams, Japan, Korea, the NFL, the Big 3 ...