Bryce Harper: More than $300,000,000?

    Bryce Harper: More than $300,000,000?

    For the past seven seasons, Bryce Harper has been the face of the Washington Nationals. The 26-year-old was selected with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft by Washington and has gone on to win the 2012 Rookie of the Year award and 2015 MVP with the team. However, on Saturday, September 30 2018, after going two for four against Tyler Anderson in a 12 to nothing loss against the Colorado Rockies, Harper became a free agent. Harper’s free agency sent the MLB into chaos after a rumor surfaced that he was unhappy in Washington. Speculation soon broke out over which team would pay Harper the most money, and if he wanted to go to a bigger market. On November 12, 2018, the Nationals made a last ditch effort to hang onto Harper and offered him 300 million dollars for ten years of play in the nation’s capital. He declined this offer. Now the big question on everyone’s mind is where will Bryce Harper go, and is he worth the money?

    First, let us start with what went wrong in D.C.? Over the past few years, subtle hints have been dropped that Harper was growing either tired or unhappy with the city he was playing for. The latest instance was seen when the Washington Capitals made it to their second Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. Harper showed up to the Capital One Center for Game Three of the Series rocking a Golden Knights sweater, the team the Capitals were playing.  Granted Harper is from Vegas, but his willingness to go against his city-raised some eyebrows. Harper was drafted as a supposed Nationals Franchise Player, and franchise players do not go against their city. You do not see Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers prancing around in a Golden State Warriors Jersey because he is from northern California. Instead, you see him buy stock and become a minority owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Fans of the District were presented with bits of hope when Harper poured his heart out expressing how much he loved to live in D.C. after he won the Home Run Derby, but one could acquit that to the heat of the moment and also the desire to please the home crowd.

    People also question how much money Harper is actually worth. Going off pure statistics, he is worth a lot. Last season he hit 34 home runs and 100 (Runs batted in) RBIs, and that was considered a down year for him. If any other player in baseball put up those numbers, people would put them in the MVP race, but when Harper puts up those numbers, he is supposedly slumping.  

    One thing about Harper that has baseball general managers raising their eyebrows is his battle with injuries. In the past five seasons, Harper has sustained injuries that could affect his play in future years. During the 2014 season on a Sunday night game against the San Diego Padres after sliding into home to avoid getting tagged out after a three-run RBI, Harper jammed his left thumb. Initially, the injury was expected to be nothing serious and just a jam, but four days later after extensive x-raying, it was discovered that he needed surgery to repair a torn ligament. This injury reared its ugly head back in the picture two years later manager Dusty Baker suspected a reinjury had played a part in his mediocre 2016 season play, this assumption was never confirmed, but fans can only wonder what caused his subpar season.

    Now it is time to wind the clock about a year into the future.  The day is August 12, 2017. The San Francisco Giants have gotten an early lead against the Nats in the first inning, and Harper is up to bat with a 0-2 count. After hitting a fastball that barely stayed in play. On that ball, nonstarter Ryder Jones made an excellent play keeping the ball in front of him and not allowing Harper to reach first. A few weird things happened on this play, one of them being Harper actually ran out a ground ball, and the second being… he put too much pressure on his knee. The game against the Giants had been delayed and delayed due to rain, and you could tell that the bases were still wet. Harper ran through first, and in slow motion, you can tell in graphic detail how far his knee bent back. Fans initially feared the worst, maybe an ACL tear? Nope. Just a hyperextended left knee. Harper returned before the season’s end but was rusty. Him being rusty led to a strikeout in Game 5 in the final at-bat of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, and yet another year of the Nationals choking in the playoffs.

    Now for the million dollar question (or in this case the $300,000,000 one), where will the phenom end up?  Recently Harper himself has expressed interest in playing for a team located in either Chicago or New York, purely based on the food served in those states, but is he also hinting at something else here.  Harper and Chicago Cubs superstar third baseman Kris Bryant have hinted over the years the desire to both play on the same team. The one tangible that would prevent Harper from going to The Cubs is current player contract demands.  Currently, The Cubs have to pay superstars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant top dollar, and with the sudden emergence of Javier Baez (someone who will demand more money in future seasons), it is questionable if the Cubs could even afford to pay him.  Traveling down to the south side of Chicago, The Chicago White Sox have recently been rumored to be eyeing Harper this offseason. The White Sox. Over the past few years, The Sox have been slowing losing star players and adding young talent to hopefully bring some success in the future. Even if The Sox have seen little to no prosperity in the past few seasons, one has to admire how they have put themselves in a position to potentially sign Harper. They have a young team that they can build with and are paying virtually nobody top dollar. This team could afford to pay Harper big time. They definitely have a better shot to sign him over the Cups.

    Going over to the east coast, the two teams in New York are in similar situations to their counterparts in Chicago. The Yankees definitely cannot afford to pay Harper with the sheer amount of MVP candidates general manager Brian Cashman has to write checks to, whereas the Mets only have to pay top dollar to Cy Young award winning pitcher Jacob deGrom, granted the rest of the roster is much older than the one of The White Sox.

    Whenever thinking about where Harper will end up going, I get this weird feeling he will choose the South over the North and head to The White Sox. The Sox can pay him top dollar, he will be in the big market that he seems to desire, and he will be in a similar situation to what he was in when he was a rookie at Washington. Harper will be tasked with bringing a team who has seen no success in the years of past, and breathe life into them.  Come spring time, I would not be surprised if Harper ditched his red threads for something black and white.

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    About the Contributor
    Joey Pickel
    Joey Pickel, Sports Editor
    Joey Pickel is a senior and The Sentry's Sports Editor. This is his fourth year on staff.

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