Nothing is certain regarding Bryce Harper this winter…Wait, we take that back. There is one certainty: He’s set to make more money than most small countries gross in a year.
The potential numbers keep rising: $300 million to $350 million; $350 to (!) $400 million. That last number could very well happen given where MLB free agency has found itself paired with the fact Scott Boras is handling Harper’s affairs. Any type of discount seems unlikely, but, like we said above, almost nothing is certain as of today.
St. Louis fans would love nothing more than to exchange crisp new Harper Cardinals jerseys with one another for Christmas, but the Birds keep coming up short if you’re going by what most national baseball writers are saying. The Phillies are attached to Harper rumors at every turn, with the Nationals getting plenty of play as well despite the fact he turned down a late-season 10-year, $300 million offer from his long-time team.
Frequent 101 ESPN guest, Bob Nightengale believes it’s a done deal Harper will be suiting up in Philly next season. The USA Today scribe used ‘not enough bright lights’ as his reasoning for Harper’s likely discounting the Cardinals, but according to Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller, dollar signs likely outweigh lighting in Harper and Boras’s eyes.
“I think Bryce Harper will consider anywhere a destination market if he gets a record-setting contract offer that’s creative; that speaks to all kinds of crazy things,” Miller told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’ “Two years ago, when the winter meetings were in DC in the backyard of the Nationals, that’s when word broke that he’s going to be looking for a $400 million deal.
“If the Cardinals, as an example, were to step up and say, ‘You know, guess what? Here’s 10 years and $400 million. We’ll give you opt-out clauses if you think you can do better in four years or five years. We’ll give you this. We’ll give you that.’ Then all of a sudden I think Bryce Harper and Scott Boras would consider St. Louis a destination market,” he said with a light laugh.
So, geography may not be an issue to Harper as long as the contract is full of cash, years, and incentives…But Miller still thinks Philadelphia and DC are the front-runners.
“Philadelphia has a ton of money to spend this winter. They had a good year last year. They moved a little bit ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process, so the Phillies are a team to watch with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado,” Miller said.
“The Nationals, I still think when all is said and done, Bryce could end up just staying put even though he didn’t jump at their first offer,” he added. “Nationals ownership loves Bryce Harper. They look at him, as they should, as a franchise player.”
As far as getting that special fan in your life a hypothetical Harper Cardinals jersey for Christmas, you may have time as Miller believes the player’s camp will try and have things shored up at the Dec. 9-13 winter meetings.
“I think in Scott Boras’s perfect world, he’d have about a $400 million contract lined up for Bryce to make the big splash for the winter meetings,” he said. “Because they are – drumroll – in Las Vegas, which is Bryce Harper’s hometown.”
But, again, $400 million is a lot of money for any team, let alone one not normally prone to dishing out mega-deals.
‘Has to make you nervous’
Should the Cardinals not pony up a bagillion dollars in the Harper sweepstakes, Josh Donaldson’s name keeps popping up as a consolation prize (albeit one not a lot of Cardinals fans seem thrilled with). Donaldson’s no doubt proven his worth when he’s been healthy, but a spread chart representing his workload since 2013 would show quite a recent dip.
“He’s 32 years old; he turns 33 on December 8. He’s one of those guys, to me, where his body’s about 36,” Miller said. “He had a four-year span, 2013 to 2016, when he played between 155 and 158 games, and he played in 158 in 2013, ’14, and ’15. ’16 was 155; pretty good. ’17 was just 113 games and then last year, of course, was just 52 games.
“So, the trend in games played and the trend of Donaldson’s body absolutely, to me, has to make you nervous.”
Listen to Miller’s entire 101 ESPN chat:
And if you’re still in the mood for MLB Hot Stove chatter, catch the latest edition of Bernie and Randy’s podcast: