Where will Bryce Harper be next baseball season?


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Nationals outfield star Bryce Harper sprints to a base. Harper was a free-agent this off-season, and there have been rumors that he will have offers from multiple teams.

By Bennett Solomon

“To the fans: I can’t thank them enough. I love D.C. and that’s what it’s all about.” After the Washington Nationals’ final game against the Colorado Rockies on September 30th, Nats superstar Bryce Harper expressed his love for playing in D.C. But now that Harper’s contract with the local team has ended, the question arises: what team will he play for next year?

Harper is rumored to be considering multiple teams for next season, including the Nats, the San Francisco Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. I see Harper going to the team that offers a combination of the highest salary and the best chances for Harper to win his first World Series ring.

The Nats

The Nats traded away Gio Gonzalez, Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy, which allowed the team to clear cap space to offer Harper a maximum contract. Harper turned down a ten year $300 million contract extension offered by the Nats, so that could be a sign Harper is leaving Washington. With outfielder Juan Soto on the rise, however, it might make more sense to let Harper go and put the spotlight on Soto. In my opinion, Soto should win National League Rookie of the Year. He’s managed a batting average of .292 and hit 22 home runs in only 116 games, making him an ideal player to build around.

The Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are believed to be one of the top candidates on Harper’s list, largely because of Harper’s relationship with Cubs’ superstar third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant and Harper grew up in Las Vegas together and are close friends. Don’t be surprised to see Bryant and Harper team up in their careers, possibly next year. The Cubs also have a talented roster including MVP candidate Javier Baez and all-star first baseman Anthony Rizzo. If Harper decides to join the Cubs, the team could be a World Series favorite.

The Giants

After winning the 2014 World Series, the San Francisco Giants have struggled the past few seasons, largely because of injury troubles and weak pitching. Last season, they attempted to bolster their line up by adding five time all-star outfielder and 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen; however, the move didn’t work out and the Giants ended up trading him later in the season to the New York Yankees. Offering Harper a maximum deal could make the Giants a World Series contender next year with four time all-star Madison Bumgarner leading the pitching staff and Harper adding dynamism offensively. The Giants are one of few teams who can offer Harper the max contract he wants, positioning them as a leader in the chase.

The Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies, a Nats division rival, have one of the lowest payrolls in the league, which could allow the Phillies to spend big on Harper. If they have enough to also lure Manny Machado from the Dodgers, he would complement Harper with all the young talent the Phillies have: 2015 Cy-Young winner, Jake Arrieta and Cy-Young nominee Aaron Nola headline their pitching corps.

The Phillies fell apart in the second half of this past season, but they were playoff contenders before the all-star break. If the Phillies go all out in signing Harper and Machado, they would be contenders to make a deep run in the playoffs next year.

Harper has established himself as one of the best players in baseball during his six years in Washington. At the age of only 26, he has won the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, 2015 National League MVP, is a six-time all-star and led the Nats to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2012. If Harper moves on, he would leave the Nationals with a great legacy. If he stays and signs a long term deal, he will have to live up to huge expectations and play like he’s worth $300 million. Harper had a low batting average of .249 and a poor offensive season, begging the question if it’s even worth signing Harper to a long term contract.

My Prediction

I think it’s time to let him go and have the Nats focus on Soto. Fans may think that means rebuilding, but I disagree. Along with Soto, the Nats would still have Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and rising stars Victor Robles and Carter Kieboom. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg also remain top pitchers entering the 2019 season. Giving up Harper wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Nats, and in my opinion the $100 million Harper would cost could be better spent on other assets.

I personally see Harper in San Francisco next year, playing with the Giants. It’s close to his hometown of Las Vegas, the Giants have enough money to offer Harper the maximum deal he wants and the team would be a strong contender for another World Series appearance.