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Why Every Major League Team Needs Bryce Harper

Right now, the Mets are once again choosing to operate like a mid-market team, which to be honest is a kind characterization. The Mets decision is all the more inexcusable because the team has already mortgaged the future in trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while simultaneously taking back $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract.

The Mets have also watched their NL East competition improve their teams to the point where it is entirely possible the Mets finish in third or even fourth place. The team’s chances in 2019 would be significantly improved to the point where they would become division favorites or even World Series contenders/favorites if they went out and signed Manny Machado, which is just not happening, or Bryce Harper, which is not happening but is more likely than Machado.

While the Mets should be chastised for their lack of a pursuit of Harper, they are not the only team immune from cricisim on their front. In fact, almost every team in baseball could use him, and few of them have an excuse:

AL East

Red Sox – The defending World Series champions may be one of the few teams with an excuse to not pursue Harper. Arguably, they have the best outfield in baseball, and their DH position is occupied by J.D. Martinez. Still, if Harper is willing to move to first base, you have to question why Mitch Moreland and his $6.5 million should stand in the way.

Yankees – The Yankees need a left-handed power hitter to balance out that lineup. The team seems to have no issue using Giancarlo Stanton as a DH and Brett Gardner as a fourth outfielder. This leaves a team under the luxury tax zero reason to not sign Harper, especially if they do not get Machado.

Rays – The Rays are on the verge of contention and with the moves they’ve made, they’re even closer. Still, that outfield is a disaster, and that lineup as a whole needs a big bat. A team who has issues drawing fans could also use a superstar and gate draw like Harper.

Blue Jays – The argument the Blue Jays are rebuilding does not hold water for the Blue Jays or any other team. Harper is a 26 year old future Hall of Famer. He is a player who not just helps jump the rebuild, but he is also a huge trade piece in the future should you look to move him.

OriolesFor a 115 loss team with not much Major League or even Major League ready talent, the Orioles could sure use some young talent and a player who can draw fans to the ballpark.

AL Central

IndiansThe Indians are a win-now team whose World Series window is closing as Corey Kluber edges towards free agency. With Michael Brantley departing in free agency, they have absolutely nothing in the outfield. Harper would completely change the dynamics of that team and the postseason.

Twins – With Joe Mauer‘s contract coming off the books, the Twins seem to be going for it a bit this offseason, albeit haphazardly. Adding Harper would make it a real division race between them and the Indians, and it could shift the balance of power in 2020 and beyond.

TigersEven if you assume the Tigers and their improving farm system are a few years away, how many chances do you get to add a player like Harper? Wouldn’t you be better off having an in his prime Harper with your young players when your team is about to take off?

White Sox – To their credit, the White Sox understand the opportunity present with Harper and Machado, and they are doing what they can to obtain either or both.

RoyalsIf the Royals are not tearing it down and moving guys like Whit Merrifield or Salvador Perez, they should be adding to this team, and that means more than just Billy Hamilton.

AL West

Astros – Even with the team having signed Brantley, this team is still a bat short, which was something which hurt them against the Red Sox. If they want to overtake the Red Sox, they need another bat or two, especially with Marwin Gonzalez likely gone. Adding Harper would make them clear favorites to win the World Series.

Athletics – The Athletics were a surprise 97 win team, which meant they only got a Wild Card Game out of it. One and done. While the Athletics don’t normally swim in the deep end of the pool, Harper could keep them not just in contention, but he could become a face of the franchise as the team hopes to move a new ballpark.

Mariners For all of their talk of rebuilding, the Mariners have been sneakily building a team which could compete this year with players like Jay Bruce, Dee Gordon, J.P. Crawford, Kyle Seager, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mitch Haniger. Harper could push them into the Wild Card mix.

Angels As Mike Trout moves towards free agency, the Angels need to do everything they can do to get him a chance to win a World Series in an Angels uniform. An outfield of Trout and Harper instantly makes this the best outfield in baseball, and it may change the dynamics of the American League.

RangersThe Rangers actually have a young outfield core, and where they are as a on organization, they are probably justified passing on Harper to give their younger players a chance, especially because Harper is not likely looking to move to first base for what should be a last place club.

NL East

Braves – Right now, Nick Markakis is a free agent leaving a hole in right field. Also, the team had over $50 million in salary come off the books leaving them with around $30 million to reinvest even after signing Josh Donaldson to a one year deal. In what is an increasingly competitive NL East, the Braves lack of a pursuit may be the most inexcusable.

NationalsThe Nationals know what they had in Harper, and they are rumored to have offered him a contract over the initially reported 10 year $300 million deal. The owner met with Harper right before Christmas. They’re doing what they can to re-sign him to recapture NL East supremacy.

PhilliesThe Phillies are doing all they can do to land Harper or Machado including making the team around them better.

Mets – There is no justifying their payroll or their inaction here. For as difficult as it is to hit at Citi Field, Harper has excellent numbers there, and he is a young superstar akin to Carlos Beltran, who can take the Mets to a new level. If you’re mortgaging the future, you need to go for it.

MarlinsThis team needs to start somewhere in terms of adding talent, and if they are really intent on wanting to keep J.T. Realmuto in a Marlins uniform, and they seem to be considering how they are handling the trade discussions, it would go a long way to have Harper there to convince Realmuto to stay.

NL Central

BrewersRyan Braun is essentially done being a good MLB outfielder. Brewers should cut their losses, make him a backup and/or first base option (behind Jesus Aguilar), and they should add Harper to make that lineup all the more long and dangerous. Doing so insulates them from some regression from some players, and it probably buys some more time for their starting pitching to truly develop.

CubsThe Cubs still have a young core, albeit one which needs some help. The team could move Jason Heyward to center to accommodate Harper, or they could trade Kyle Schwarber to help address other needs. Overall, they are facing tougher competition, and they are going to have to find some way to improve.

Cardinals – The Cardinals are right in the thick of teams who are projected to be in postseason contention next year. While adding Paul Goldschmidt makes them significantly better, they probably still need to add one more significant player to move ahead of the Brewers and Cubs. Harper could well be that guy.

PiratesThe Pirates made an all-in type of move giving up a lot for Chris Archer, but they have not backed that up by signing a position player. Right now, they have fewer prospects, and they are really on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason contention. Really, if their goal is to matter in a loaded NL Central and increasingly top heavy National League, they need Harper to move them into the discussion.

RedsThe Reds just made an interesting trade with the Dodgers to help them try to win now. While many may be skeptical, the Reds are seemingly of the belief they can contend next year. While they already have a lot of names to sort through in that outfield, none of those players are on the level of Harper, nor will they be over the period in which the Reds intend to contend. Tangentially, adding Harper would free up some talented young players to move them in deals for upgrades at other positions.

NL West

DodgersThe Dodgers barely won the NL West last year and made it back to the World Series. During the year, they had more surprising contributions, but they also saw a player like Cody Bellinger regress. Fact is, they could use a player like Harper to help them stave off a team like the Rockies while also helping them capture their first World Series since 1988. After all, the Dodgers are now essentially a World Series or bust team.

RockiesThe common mistake with the Rockies is assuming that just because they are in Coors Field, they are fine offensively. They’re not. In fact, they’re not very good, and they are especially bad in the outfield. Harper is the guy who could put up superhuman numbers there while helping the Rockies potentially nudge past the Dodgers.

DiamondbacksEven after trading Goldschmidt and with A.J. Pollock a free agent, the Diamondbacks are not intending to strip it down and rebuild. If they’re not, they can replace Goldschmidt’s production with Harper, which could put them back in contention in the division. After all, the Diamondbacks did lead the NL West heading into September last year.

GiantsIt may seem like a new age with a new GM with the Giants, but the team still appears to be going nowhere. They have older players and contract which will be difficult to move, and with Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, they still have the last vestiges of their World Series titles. If the team is not moving towards a rebuild, Harper deepens and lengthens that lineup, and he would put them back in the conversation.

PadresMuch like the Reds, the Padres appear to believe they’ve arrived before everyone else believes they have arrived. Adding Harper to this team may not bear fruit in 2019, but in 2020, when we will see the likes of Fernando Tatis, Jr. and their other top prospects emerge, the team will need Harper. They could have him for what could prove to be an extended period of dominance for the Padres.

So, overall, Harper is an improvement for every team in baseball, and at his age, rebuilding is no excuse. The only excuse is team’s do not want to spend the money, which at the end of the day, is a very lame excuse considering how profitable each one of these franchises truly are.

40 thoughts on “Why Every Major League Team Needs Bryce Harper”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    Yeah. But he is a horse’s ass, last year only Hoskins spared him being the worst NL OFer, with a stunning negative 3.2 dWAR. Since 2015 he has batted below .250 twice, and in almost 700 plate appearances last year totaled a measely 1.3 WAR.

    If you take out his abberational 2015, his career looks very Jay Brutish, and in terms of WAR vs. Playing time, both Nimmo and Conforto shade him comfortably.

    He had one freak great year.

    Ring me when Trout comes available, then Ill build a team around a 300 mil free agent.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Harper is 26 years old and entering his prime.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        I post numbers, you post bombast.

        Him entering his 1.3 WAR prime is not impressive.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Since he debuted in the league, he’s been a top 11 WAR player. Let’s focus on body of work and not just one season.

  2. OldBackstop says:

    Also, the Cano trade wil take a decade to decide if we mortgaged the future.” Yes, we took on Cano, but that was offset by cash and acquiring a blue chip closer for four years at a fraction of what an FA would have cost. The two prospects are just that…I liked them both, especially Kelenic…..but he is an 18 year old kid with 12 home runs in rookie ball.

    If Cano declines but stays productive, if Diaz continues to slam doors closed, if we have some playoff appearances or more while we have the Thor/Jake/Matz/Zack miracle in the Coupon’s unworthy hands….then we did not mortgage our future.

    We don’t need Harper. We need Hector Santiago and Marwin Gonzales and we are done shopping.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That’s wrong. You don’t need a decade. You know it right now. The Mets unequivocally mortgaged the future.

      Also, if the plan is Marwin, the plan is to build a third place team in the NL East.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        C’mon, nobody can say it is unequivocal that they “mortgaged” the future. Merely asserting it is not making a case. They got cash, shed two burdensome contracts, and got a closer who will project to tens of millions in savings over what we would have had to pay. Three, four years out, isn’t Cano our only commitment? And whose to say he won’t carry us to the playoffs during that time…he is currently a top five, maybe top three second baseman, plus with the glove, the D, and baserunning. That will decline, but it is a nice place to start the decline.

        Cano and Ramos in the lineup should boost our offensive output over 2018. The number one issue to me is having some more depth given our talented but fragile starting pitching.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          When you trade arguably your two best prospects, and you add a $20 million commitment over the next five years for a 36 year old 2B coming off a PED suspension, you’ve mortgaged the future.

          Anything else past that is just noise, especially citing Cano as the only commitment as if the team didn’t have arbitration eligible players or guys like deGrom they need to re-sign

          1. OldBackstop says:

            They were better than Alonso and Gimenez? I’d have been upset to hear them leaving. Its not arguable, nobody had them even in the top two, Dunn was back further in some ratings. He never got to AAA, was walking almost 4 batters per nine with a 3.87 era. He was striking AA batters out at a 10 clip, but so does everybody.

            Now, I admit I did not like to hear Kelenic in the deal, but was he just a PR phenom? He hit .287 in rookie ball last year. He’s 18 and a long way from Queens.

            You never acknowledge getting the best reliever in baseball on what is something like a 4/25 deal inc arbs, or dumping two bad salaries we would never have unloaded otherwise or getting 20 mil cash.. What is that worth….pick a number..75 mil to be conservative? That makes Cano a 5/50. If you get three years at 80 percent of his recent production its a steal.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Yes, Kelenic and Dunn were arguably better. For all the hype behind Gimenez and Alonso both have significant flaws. Gimenez’s are more correctable but also more fatal.

            As for Diaz, you’re getting a guy with uneven performances in his MLB career. Maybe he’s great, and maybe he reverts. He’s not a sure thing, and he’s certainly not worth two top 100 prospects plus a $100 burden of a deal.

    2. OldBackstop says:

      Hey, they signed Santiago about an hour after I posted this ☺. He’s not an ace, but he is a former All Star and he might be better than Vargas and has started and relieved and was apparently a cheapie minor league deal.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        It was an excellent suggestion and signing

  3. OldBackstop says:

    Just a thought….the acquisition of Broxton, basically a cheaper, younger, healthier Lagares…..perhaps could presage a trade? If the Mets were to go get some high end, high salaried piece from another team, Lagares would be a good salary mitigation chit, ala Swarzak and Bruce. Broxton prevents the gap of a plus defensive glove in the OF.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Adding Broxton makes trading Lagares all the more difficult. You took what little leverage you had and destroyed it

      1. OldBackstop says:

        I dont see Lagares as a centerpiece any more than Swarzak was. He would be the 9 million salary dump for us in a deal where we take on a big star salary dump from a rebuilding team.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          That’s not happening. The Mets don’t have the budget

          1. OldBackstop says:

            They have already shown in the Cano deal that they will incur long term costs if the trade helps the current payroll ala contract dumps and cash.

            I find it hard to believe that these small strokes of the weekend are Brodie’s final tweaking of the team. He seems to want the title of mist press releases of the off season. And if the Nats or Phillies sign Harper or Machado or Kimbrel or add a high profile player in a trade, the win now Mets will have the pressure to respind.

            So, what’s the budget?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Judging from yesterday’s trades, I doubt there’s much more money remaining

      2. OldBackstop says:

        By…wha? Like a trading partner is going to try to gouge you because they think you are thrilled with Broxton and Lagares is expendable. These guts are akl professionals with analytics, this isnt a swap meet. Lagares in a stand alone trade with 9 mil is….who is going to be interested in that? If we have to take back a bad contract or send 5 million, then it is better to keep him and see…maybe trade him midseason if he is doing well and Broxton is doing well and YoC is coming back.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Yes, another team will hold your feet to the fire if they know you need to move Lagares. Leverage matters.

          1. oldbackstop says:

            But they don’t need to move him. Broxton doesn’t make Lagares the 6th outfielder. He makes him tied for third. Your acting like it is a two team league and playing hard to get is a huge factor.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            They do need to move him because his $9 million is preventing them from making other moves, and they have two duplicative players.

  4. TOZ says:

    Philadelphia is proud of the aggression of John Middleton towards trying to sign both these guys, even if he comes up short, you have to tip your cap to the Phillies approach this off season.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I respect what the Phillies are doing

  5. OldBackstop says:

    MD, you cite WAR all the time, and I think it is a great way to slot actual value after all the hype.

    In 2018, Harper played a full year and had more plate appearances than any Met.

    His WAR of 1.3 would have ranked him 13th on the Mets. In pisition players he was tied for 8th with Plawecki, behing Cabrera and McNeil who has partial seasons…well, everybody had less playing time.

    In 2017, Harper missed 50 games, giving him less time to flop around the outfield, but in 2016 he had a full season, and his WAR was 1.5. On the Mets, only Granderson, with 633 plate appearances, had more than Harper’s 627. But a dozen Mets in 2016 had higher WARs that year, and in position players Harper would have been back in the pack, well behind, for instance, Neil Walker, who had a WAR of 2.6

    A WAR of below 2.0 is considered a “substitute” level in the BBR guide. So in both his last two full seasons Harper’s actual worth was at the level of a sub.

    Again….take out 2015, and Harper has had a good, not great, career. Run the numbers.

    Maybe as a DH. No way an NL team should be considering him as an OFer at 10/300.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Harper had a 4.7 in 2017, and he’s been a top 11 player since he’s debuted in the league

  6. oldbackstop says:

    Yes. Top 11. I’m guessing he was 11th. Since you are covering seven years in a more or less counting stat you cull out all the great players whose careers were winding down or didn’t start until the seven years were going. It’s really not a comparison.

    And, yes, he was great in 2015. That is a long time ago.

    Look at the last three years, relatively full years in his prime.

    EIGHTY FOUR (84) major league position players have a higher WAR than Harper since 2015. TWENTY FIVE major league outfielders have a higher WAR than Harper. And it isn’t like he is Juan Lagares, he played in 417 games over that period. To be fair, I also sorted by the people with LESS playing time than Harper (under 417 games). THIRTY NINE major league position players have played fewer games to a higher WAR than Harper.

    Lets look at this another way. What was the WAR for players in the three years before receiving large multiyear contracts?

    Robinson Cano 22.0 ($240 million)
    Alex Rodriquez 23.6 ($275 million)
    Albert Pujols 22.5 ($240)
    Giancarlo Stanton 14.4 ($325 million) — only 384 games due to injury

    Harper is at 7.5.

    How about his competition Machado? 16.1.

    Now, why the odd numbers for a superstar? You might think it was a stellar oWAR and negative dWAR, and it is to some degree. But even if he were to go straight up DH, his oWAR from 2016 to 2018 was only 10.5. THIRTY FIVE batters had oWARs higher than Harper in 2016-2018, 14 of them in fewer games.

    MD, lol, have some intellectual integrity here instead of parroting pre-2016 numbers. Do these numbers SURPRISE you at least? Would you agree that he is better suited to an AL team? Do you have a theory why the next three years will be better than the last three for Harper? Or are you just dismissing any value to WAR?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I have intellectual integrity, which is why I don’t focus on just one year because I don’t like a player, nor do I try to skew numbers to justify the argument.

      Fact is, he’s a top 11 player in his career, and he’s consistently been a top hitter in the game year-in and year-out. He’s also just 26 years old.

      1. oldbackstop says:

        Focusing on one year is what you have to do to think Harper is a superstar. Take out 2015 and he is Jay Bruce with 40 less home runs, or Jason Bay or Marcus Giles.
        People look at Bryce and assume he’s a guy that has wracked up 35+ home runs seasons (1) and over 100 ribbie seasons (0) and has a career batting average over .300 (.279)
        Any NL team that signs him will have an obnoxious defensive disaster on their hands with three years. Philly fans? lol. Dead man walking.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          If you’re a top 20 player with six All-Star appearances in your seven years, never had a losing season, and you’ve been one of the sports more recognizable players, you’re a superstar.

          Saying otherwise is creating arguments to match your feelings instead of focusing on the facts.

  7. oldbackstop says:

    Not to pile on, because I would like to hear your thoughts on the above, but “Harper is 26 years old and entering his prime.” is so 2005.

    Here is data from Fangraphs this year: https://www.fangraphs.com/library/the-beginners-guide-to-aging-curves/

    Age 26 is the first year of decline for the average player today. However, there are troubling signs that Harper is already on the downside. In terms of overall performance, Harper’s best year by far was his Age 22….WAR-wise, his next three don’t collectively total it. (10 in 2015 vs. a total of 7.5 in 2016-18). In 2012, in defensive runs saved he was +15. In 2016 he was +9. In 2018 he was a staggering -26.

    Then again, maybe an insider would know whether that is not physical but is just hustle/attitude related. I’ll ask Papelbon. 🙂

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That’s a really bare bones analysis, and I’ll note you read the curves wrong

      1. oldbackstop says:

        Those curves are the average player. Harpers fade began long before the average player.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You’re reading the curve and Harper incorrectly

          1. OldBackstop says:

            ? Harpers best year was four years ago.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            He’s 26 with a lot more great baseball ahead of him.

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