Spring Training has been going strong for over two weeks now, yet the return of actual baseball being played, has seemed to be playing second fiddle to what’s happening with Bryce Harper.
The yo-yoing of all the reports by those in media, have made the storyline quite unbearable for most fans, and certainly frustrating if you are Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, or Los Angeles Dodgers fans.
When the off-season started, Philadelphia was certainly the clear-cut favorite, as far as “stupid money” goes. However, it seems as if the Phillies were never really close to the top of Harper’s list. From all indications, he simply doesn’t like it there, doesn’t want to play there, and his family doesn’t see the allure of residing in the city of brotherly love. Even still, reports keep rolling out that Philadelphia is willing to continue a cascade dump of money in Harper’s lap until he finally nods his head yes. Yet, nod, he has not.
An overnight trip to Vegas, baby, from the Dodgers brass, including the not so guy-behind-the-guy, Dave Roberts, both shocked and awed the landscape. The Dodgers were suppose to be out. That book was closed after it was barely opened back in December. In the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friends.” I believe the Dodgers saw it was clear, Nolan Arenado was going to sign his extension with the Colorado Rockies, and L.A. was going to go at him hard if he hit free agency. The money they had earmarked for him, suddenly became available. Outside of Arenado, the biggest fish in free agency to be coming, pun intended, is Mike Trout.
If the Dodgers miss out on signing an impact player now, that can, and will affect the team for years to come. If they do not themselves pursuing Trout in the offseason following the 2020 season, they could find themselves rebuilding sooner, rather than retooling later. With that being said, if they do indeed land Harper, I expect Friedman to open up trade talks for Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson. The Dodgers will not want to have four left hand hitting corner outfielders if you include Cody Bellinger.
In step the rivals to the north, the Giants, on a second meeting with Harper. Nobody who wears Dodger blue wants to see Harper go to San Francisco. Ever. It would be a major coup, in my opinion, that if after Andrew Friedman’s understudy, Farhan Zaidi, moves into the front office of their hated divisional rival, he signs one of the top two players to hit free agency, in years, possibly ever, away from the Dodgers. The fan base, and perhaps ownership, would never forgive the front office for allowing that to happen.
With the reports this morning that the Giants have hit the 10-year offer threshold with their offer, the fact that Harper hasn’t quickly signed that deal, leads me to believe he is the Dodgers to lose. The silence is quite deafening.
Harper wants to be in L.A. He wants to taste real postseason success. He wants to be relevant, to be marketable, to be the difference maker. He doesn’t do all of those things in any city, except for Los Angeles. I believe this journey ends by Sunday, March 3rd, and he reports to camp next week, to surprise, Surprise, Arizona.
Featured Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass