Posted on November 5, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Without a doubt, outfielder Bryce Harper is the star attraction of this year’s free agent class. Manny Machado may be a close second, but Harper’s free agency has been talked about practically since he made his big league debut. Obviously, it’s early in the offseason and a real market is yet to develop. However, it still seems worthwhile to take a look at what teams have the best chance of signing Harper this offseason.
Cardinals – 10%
At this point, the Cardinals are probably best described as a dark horse. The outfield isn’t a pressing need for them with some talented youngsters ready to make an impact in the majors. However, the Red Birds are also playing catch up to the Brewers and Cubs in the NL Central, so they may feel compelled to make a splash. Also, St. Louis can probably come up with the money to sign Harper if they really wanted to.
Cubs – 5%
Like the Cardinals, the Cubbies aren’t exactly hurting for outfield help. But they’re a team that wants to win the World Series and they fell well short of that this past season. That could motivate them to sign Harper, even if it seems unlikely that they’ll be serious suitors.
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Dodgers – 20%
Right now, the Dodgers have to be the favorites for Harper. They tried to limit spending last winter with an eye toward Harper this offseason. They’ve also come up short in the World Series two years in a row, so the team’s ownership will definitely be motivated to add the piece who can put them over the top. They aren’t likely to try re-signing Machado, but there’s every chance they will be serious in their pursuit of Harper.
Giants – 15%
Much like the Cardinals, the Giants are a team that’s used to competing for world championships but has struggled to get to the postseason in recent years. San Francisco could surely find the money to sign Harper if they wanted to. Plus, signing him would allow them to reload rather than rebuild. The Giants are also lacking impact players in the outfield, so they may have the biggest need for a player like Harper.
Nationals – 10%
It doesn’t seem likely that Harper will stay in Washington, but they have to be mentioned as a possible suitor. The Nats will surely keep in contact with Harper about a reunion. Of course, with youngsters like Juan Soto and Victor Robles expected to cover the Washington outfield for the next handful of years, the Nationals should be able to survive without Harper.
Phillies – 15%
The Phillies appear to be on a mission to land a high-priced free agent this offseason. They have money and they are ready to spend it. If it matters, the Phillies can probably get by with their current contingent of outfielders. But they will move pieces around and find room for Harper if they can get him, so expect Philadelphia to make a serious effort for both Harper and Machado, hoping to get at least one of them.
White Sox – 10%
The White Sox are the flavor of the week in terms of teams that could make a push for Harper. After Eric Hosmer signed with the Padres last winter, it’s not impossible for Harper to sign with a rebuilding team like the White Sox. With such an impressive farm system, the White Sox could be competing within a year or two, especially if they sign Harper.
Yankees – 5%
After re-signing Brett Gardner, the Yankees aren’t likely to make a serious play for Harper. However, given their budget (or lack thereof) and the pressure on them after watching the Red Sox win the World Series, nothing can be ruled out. It’s a longshot, but the Yankees still need to be in the conversation regarding Harper right now.
The Field – 10%
This early in the offseason, no team is off the table. Well, the teams without payroll flexibility like the Royals and Athletics can be ruled out. However, teams like the Angels, Braves, Mets, Rangers, Tigers, and a few others could potentially emerge as viable suitors.