More Thoughts on a Potential Bryce Harper Deal

(CBS Sports photo)

With the Bryce Harper sweepstakes still captivating the baseball world, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the thick of a free agent decision that can alter the league landscape for potentially the next decade.

If a deal does happen between the two sides, though, it appears like it is going to be dependent on some compromises between the two parties.

Harper is believed to be seeking a long-term deal that would set the record for the amount of money given to a free agent.

The rumblings are that he has his eye on a 10-year contract, although it remains to be seen how enthusiastic teams are about making that type of commitment.

The Dodgers and Harper obviously have a mutual interest in one another, but there are some key factors that could ultimately impede an agreement.

Harper apparently wants to join the team, but he realizes that he would likely have to accept a deal for less duration than another team would give him.

Alden Gonzalez of ESPN is reporting that Harper really wants to sign with the Dodgers, but it would be dependent on sacrificing both contract duration and total value.

The Dodgers don’t look like they’re preparing to budge on their stance of not going for a long-term deal with Harper.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that the Dodgers aren’t interested in giving Harper a record-setting overall guarantee, but instead want to give him a short-term deal that optimizes his flexibility.

The Dodgers would give Harper a deal that would presumably set the record for highest annual value with multiple opt-out clauses.

If Harper does choose to sign with the Dodgers, it looks like his contract is going to be relatively short and have an extremely high average annual value.

Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that from the Dodgers perspective, the most appealing offer to Harper would be a front-loaded contract with high annual value.

Harper has plenty of time to decide on what route he wants to take, and there are advantages to both types of contracts.

The long-term contract would offer optimal security and lock Harper into a hefty paycheck after what has been an impressive career thus far.

It also would protect him from injury concerns in the future, since the guaranteed money he signed for would come his way regardless of it he’d be out on the field.

It would also protect him from any statistical decreases in the coming years since he’d be getting paid well into the future based on what he commanded this offseason.

The short-term deal would be riskier in some respects but would also give him the opportunity to essentially bet on himself these next few years.

If Harper has some of the best seasons of his career these next couple seasons, he could go through this process all over again.

He’d be a couple years older, but could theoretically end up making more total money over the course of the next decade or so if he cashes in on some monster seasons in a couple years.

Harper could maintain the flexibility to once again put his services on the open market in a couple years and possibly get even more money.

If he doesn’t feel like he could get more money after an opt-out, though, he simply wouldn’t opt-out and just stay in his current deal.

Of course, Harper could still get his opt-out options included on a long-term deal, giving him ideal flexibility to either stay in his contract or opt out following a season in which his market value increases.

That’s undoubtedly Harper’s dream scenario with this contract, essentially getting to have his cake and eat it too in terms of money and flexibility.

It’s going to be really fascinating to see if a team is willing to go something like 10 years while also giving him numerous out-out options throughout, or if Harper is going to need to prioritize a specific characteristic of the contract.

The Harper deal is likely going to set some important precedents in terms of what young superstars are going to be expecting from here on out when they hit the open market.

The Dodgers can take some confidence in that it seems like Harper really wants this process to end with him signing with them.

There’s no real time limit for these negotiations, though, and it’s likely that there are going to be more crucial developments that impact this decision.


25 thoughts on “More Thoughts on a Potential Bryce Harper Deal

  1. On a personal level I really do not like the guy. His attitude has always bothered me. He is a gifted player that no one can deny. But I also think he is prone to go into the tank aka Grandal at times. He is more into Harper than he is team. He has had more than his share of confrontations with his own team mates and I think his ego in a tight club house would be a huge problem. I think he makes LA way to lefty heavy in the hitting department. I also think he is not worth what they are asking. Giving him a shorter deal with more up front money? Might seem like a good idea, but how much a year at the beginning? I do not believe any player is worth 30 million a year and that includes CK. But I also know it is the going rate. The Dodgers made over 1/2 billion in profits last year, so they can certainly afford him. My other question is does he make the Dodgers a better team than they were last year? Most say yes, I think he makes the defense worse. Hard to change ones stripes in 1 spring training with a new team. They need to address their biggest needs before they even think about a guy like Harper. If they cannot unload some hefty salaries then I do not see him coming to the Dodgers at all. In the next few weeks we will have our answer. My thing is that I do not believe Harper is the piece that gets them a series win. I think without better pitching, and I mean all phases, they will never grab the golden ring.

  2. If only it was Mike Trout and not Harper! We desperately need a big right handed bat. I see much more downside than upside with Harper. Too big of a gamble!

  3. This feels like a circular discussion.

    We need hitters who can flat out hit. Same side opposite side…. just throw it over the plate and they will smack it back at you. Harper has an .857 career OPS v LHP. .904 against RHP. I’m sure Friedman knows this.

    Least clutch Dodgers of all time? Duke Snider, Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson are on the list. Most clutch? Kyle Farmer and Pee Wee Reese.

    1. Free Kyle! Why are we holding him prisoner here in L.A. when he’s never going to get a chance to play? Do him a favor and dfa him or trade him to a team like the Orioles where he might get some playing time. Is he a future HOFer, of course not, but let him go somewhere that might be able to use him. Same for Brock Stewart.

    2. yep, Duke was not clutch at all, but his 11 homers in post season play, still are the Dodger record…….54 years after he retired.

  4. Surprised klubers’ name came up again today, I thought the Indians had shed enough salary to not need to make a trade. Who would we rather have Harper, kluber, or Realmuto. I’m so confused.

  5. I say you address the needs first and IF you can clear space and you want the guy, then go get him. But last time I checked he can’t catch, can’t pitch and cannot play second. Make up my mind already. Harper is prone to go in the tank for extended periods of time. That being said, I read where Roberts expects Bellinger and Muncy to be everyday players. I believe, and maybe this is just me, that expecting Muncy to repeat the numbers he put up last year is wishful thinking. Same thing as with Chris Taylor. He had an ok year, but nothing like 2017. I am sure there are Dodger fans who believe that Bryce Harper is an answer to their prayers for a World Championship. Sorry, I disagree…..

    1. Maybe the idea is to play Max every day until he shows he isn’t an every day player. If that should happen, I believe he still has options. He might surprise us all and come close to what he did last year, at which point he would deserve to play every day. Or, sign Pollock, move Cody to first and trade Muncy as part of a Kluber or Realmuto deal. It seems as though the Indians don’t HAVE TO trade a pitcher at this point, but apparently they are still exploring that idea. Maybe they’re convinced Kluber’s arm will fall off at some point next year or are getting tired of dealing with the head case, Mr. Bauer. I still wouldn’t mind getting Cesar Hernandez to be our lead off guy. Nice high OBP (around .370), except for the last half of 2018 when he was playing through a broken foot.

      1. Maybe Roberts is just preparing Muncy to play second base at least part of the time. And isn’t every position player on this team an “everyday” player? I don’t think they are preparing anyone to sit on the bench night after night. Roberts plays everybody.

        Harper disappears? I checked his splits last year and, yeah, you are right. It was the month of June last year. OPS only .675. Every other month it was at least.851. 3 months it was over .958. Career? No month under .826.

        Look, I get that you don’t think he’s worth 10 and $300M. I don’t either. But the guy can flat out hack. Will he hit in LA? I don’t know. Not many get better at that coming to LA. If this happens I sure hope he takes it seriously.

      2. Scoop, I get it. But I still think the guy is not going to put the Dodgers over the top. Too many holes. He is a jerk pure and simple. His numbers in LA in his career suck. I do not think playing here everyday is going to change that much. And you are right, He is not worth what they are asking. They give him a shorter deal, and it still works out to over 30 mil a year. They do not need a defensively challenged LH hitter. They need a RH with power and defense and there are not that many of them available out there. Angels not trading Trout anytime soon. They could renew the pursuit of Stanton, which at this point makes more sense to me than Harper. Stanton would be much better in the clubhouse and he has decent numbers at Dodger Stadium. Right now it is all moot anyway since neither is a Dodger and we have what we have. Venditte close to signing with the GASP…….Giants.

  6. I’ve liked Hernandez for the past two seasons, but right at this moment I think I would rather see them sign LaMahieu, and save the prospects for a little bigger acquisition, namely a pitcher, or a catcher. I would not be unhappy though if the team went your way Jeff.

    1. Last 2 seasons? He sucked in 2017. Other than what he did in the post season and especially the Cubs series, he was pretty pedestrian. He improved a lot this year. But he is still better as a super sub than an everyday guy, and he should never ever again hit in the 4 hole. I like LeMahieu too.

      1. I liked Hernandez after 2016 when LAD was looking for a 2B and settled for Forsythe. But I have been on board for a year and half to wait for LeMahieu to become a FA. I am defense minded up the middle and to have a GG 2B and a near GG SS and CF, the defense just gets better. And JT is a very talented defender at 3B. With ground ball pitchers, why not have a GG infield. I am not as concerned as so many are with DJ’s average away from Coors. No matter the player there are going to be negatives, but I believe that one is solvable. He makes contact, and far better than CT3.

        I am not a Harper guy, never really have been. Harper is big because he is being sold as bigger than baseball,and he just isn’t. He does make the Dodgers better,but as Bear said the team is too LH dominant as it is,and the top ML ready offensive players in MiLB are either LH (Verdugo, Rios, Beaty, Lux) or SH (Ruiz). Smith is a defense first catcher, and the only other RH hitting prospect at AA or higher is DJ Peters. IMO Harper would be more for marketing than for baseball.

        If the Dodgers are going to spend $$$, I would rather see them spend it on two RH hitters, DJ LeMahieu and AJ Pollock. That is probably a $23MM- $25MM AAV commitment, and gives the Dodgers a GG 2B, a very good defensive CF, and puts Bellinger back at 1st. Who wouldn’t want a defensive infield of Bellinger, LeMahieu, Seager, and Turner?

        The Dodgers could still stay under the CBT threshold by moving Puig/Wood/Joc/Fields. I would then try and do whatever it took to get Leclerc out of Texas. If not, then I would check in on Ryan Presley with the Astros and Keone Kela with the Pirates. I would not overpay for any of the top free agent relievers.

        I know people love Puig, but the team would be better with Pollock in CF, Verdugo in RF, LeMahieu at 2B and Belli at 1B, rather than Belli in CF, Puig in RF, CT3 at 2B, and Muncy at 1B, and Verdugo either traded or back in OKC (not happening).

      2. Some interesting stuff Jef. What would you do with Muncy? Utility, OKC, trade? I can’t get over the feeling that Andrew has about 6 trades and signings all lined up but each one depends upon another one and if he can’t do all of them he can’t do any of them. Either that, or he has to do a certain one to jump start the whole process and the other party in that deal is holding him up. These GM’s definitely deserve at least 2-3 weeks off between the end of the winter meetings and the beginning of the year. MLB should mandate a period of no trades or signings so everyone can just re-group and relax over the holidays.

      3. I think Keith was referring to my comment about Cesar Hernandez, Bear. I guess that’s one reason it would be unwise to trade for him. Two Hernandezes who both play second could be very confusing. Imagine Doc just before the game shouting “Hernandez, you’re starting at second today” and both of them run out to play second. The ump would stop the game and penalize us 5 yards for too many men on the field.

      4. Jeff, I would trade Muncy to an AL team. I do not believe that what he accomplished last year is sustainable. Move him at his highest value. I could be wrong (often am), but I think he regresses in 2019. I think he would be great in Baltimore and I would like to see if he could be a one for one for RH hitting MiLB OF Austin Hays.

      5. Is Hays considered one of their top 10 prospects? Just took a look at his stats. Did really well in AA in 2017 but last year he was pretty mediocre. Any good reason for the regression?

      6. Glad there was some sort of explanation for the drop off last year. Couldn’t quite figure out why you were so high on him although his 2017 numbers were impressive.

  7. I agree that Pollock is the better choice this year, then Arenado next year. I also agree with Bear’s points about pitching. I’ve said repeatedly I don’t really want Harper and hope all the talk is just hype to drive the price up. But I won’t be all that surprised to see it happen.

    I refuse to buy the RH stuff as that buys into platooning which as a team strategy I still despise. I hope it’s a passing affectation. I prefer a team full of guys who can give 500 at bats against anybody. Guess I’m just old fashioned that way.

  8. Jeff, Hays is their #4 prospect. He did well at Bowie which is AA. But he only played 9 games at Aberdeen in the New York-Penn league. But to me, he did not have a great year. As I read the scouting report, he had an injury last year that slowed his progress. He played 20 games with the O’s in 2017. His K rate was a little high, 16 in 60 at bats. He played RH more than center. He has plus speed and the Orioles expect him to be a impact everyday player. He has been called a grinder. He is also on the O’s 40 man roster. Not sure they would want Muncy as a HD since they still have Trumbo and need to figure out what they are going to do with Chris Davis. But Muncy would probably fit in as a DH almost anywhere in the AL. He could even play 1st over there where they value the bat more than the glove anyway. Scoop, I agree with you that it is better to have a bunch of guys who can hit pitching from either side. When I said they needed a RH hitting OF, it is because they are lefty heavy in the power part of the game. If they do manage to unload both Puig and Kemp, then only Turner is the real source of power from the right side. I do not consider Taylor or Hernandez power hitters.

  9. If you believe the rumors, which I do not, Harper is signed sealed and delivered. All I have read is that the Dodgers would love to have him, but not at his price. They want him on their terms. I hope ol Andy sticks to his guns because my feeling is that money is better spent elsewhere. Dodgers are signing some guys to minor league deals. That McCreery guy they got from the Braves is one BIG dude!

    1. That guy’s stats are revealing Bear. He’s been in the minors a long time, strikes out a lot of minor league hitters, but appears to be the cliche wild left hander. Must be a Honeycutt project.

      Harper will project 30+ home runs, 90+ RBIs and .900+ OPS every year for the next 6 years. He will OPS against LH pitchers too. Put him left and hit him 100 fungos every day between now and April. If he won’t agree to that then let him sign with the Yankees. In fact, let both Harper and Machado sign there and bring Stanton home. Everybody gets what they want.

      1. Angels signed Trevor Cahill to a 1 year deal. Nats signed Anibal Sanchez to a 2 year deal, Zac Rosscup signs with the Mariners. Venditte goes to the Giants. Dodgers….no action. Ol Andy is at it again.

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