I recall sitting at the OddsShark office a couple of years back now discussing the likelihood of Harper signing baseball’s first $500-million thing. At the time, it made sense, but the timing isn’t perfect. Big spenders like the Red Sox and Yankees don’t need him, although the Chicago Cubs, the team many have him linked to, have a payroll that is bloated by the dreadful contracts handed out to Yu Darvish and Jason Heyward.
I think this is a two-team race between the Phillies and the Nationals. Philadelphia has made no bones about the fact that it is prepared to go all-in onto a big-time bat. The Phils are in a position to contend in a wide-open division and the accession of Harper (or Manny Machado) would provide them the big increase on offense they desperately require.
In terms of the Nats, this is really a franchise-altering choice. They can easily jump right back into contention with a couple tweaks, but shedding Harper from the core of their order would be a significant blow — both to their own offensive production and ticket revenue. Harper is one of just a handful of players in the sport that qualify as”must-see-TV” for casual fans and the amount of butts he places into chairs and championships he sells will be just as significant as what he does on the field. The Nationals know this and by a business standpoint, bringing him back makes all of the sense in the entire world.
Another interesting wrinkle is Scott Boras, Harper’s representative, who has a great connection with the Nationals as a handful of his clients are on the roster. Finally, I think he signs with whoever offers him the most money, and it is around the Nationals should they want to be that staff.
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