With Bryce Harper finally in camp as of yesterday, how has the long lasting saga affected the hopes of the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, and Nationals? The so-called generational player coming off arguably his worst season since his rookie year has certainly got paid, but what does it mean for the season ahead.
The final days of the chase for Bryce became a bit hectic. From the moment Manny Machado signed the richest free-agent contract in MLB history, at 10 years and $300 million, it was clear that Harper would make more. Whoever signed last was always going to make more money. But the deal the Phillies gave Harper raises a few questions.
Were Washington ever really in the hunt?
In the last few weeks, it seemed like the Nationals came back into the conversation. Having mostly seemed to have given up hope,
But what he found was a much softer market than he expected, so like any good fisherman, he kept his bait live and kept the Nats on the hook to drive up his price. This graphically illustrates his preference: after several years of failed potential in Washington, he wanted to move on to a new home where he could finally make a deep playoff run.
Did the NL West looked a little desperate?
After the Padres signed Manny, things began looking a little bleak for the Dodgers and the Giants. Both teams sent marauding parties to Vegas to meet with Harper in the late hope of trumping the seeming favourites the Phillies.
Now Manny’s brief tenure with the Dodgers was all sunshine and rainbows. There was a lot made of his unwillingness to beat out singles. But this is something he has always done back in the Baltimore days (that seem so long ago now but were only last Summer). Manny is a great teammate, a locker room presence any team would want.
But with Manny lining up in a Padres uniform, suddenly the Dodgers and Giants look a little shorter on star power in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers are heavy heavy
The Padres mixture of youth and veteran talent should worry the NL West. Maybe not this season, although the odds on a Padres division title were slashed by Vegas on the news of this signing. But going forward, the Padres have set themselves up to be a player, and the Giants in particular seemed rattled.
Is Bryce Really Better than Manny?
This is the heart of the matter. The Padres have dished up a bit more average salary for Manny, but Bryce got the richest contract in MLB history. Machado had the better season last year, both in terms of performance, and reaching the world series. Machado also arguably has had the better career stats to date, with a WAR of 33.8 to Harper’s 27.4. However, Harper leads in homers by 9 in 414 less at bats.
Both are immense talents, and we have the pleasure of watching them in their primes. This question is one that is likely to dominate baseball for years to come. One thing that is for sure, by the time the likes of Acuna, Soto, and Guerrero Jr get their paydays, Harper’s contract will likely have been surpassed.