The biggest story of the MLB offseason is where former National League MVP Bryce Harper will land during free agency. He could always return to Washington, but there are plenty of teams interested in signing the 26-year-old superstar. With Harper being mum on his status, no one knows for sure what he’s thinking—whether he just wants the biggest payday possible or just wants to play for a particular team—but here’s a crack at predicting the teams with the best chances of signing him.
8. Chicago Cubs
The first connection between the Cubs and Harper is that Chicago’s own NL MVP Kris Bryant is a fellow Las Vegas native, and the two know each other from when they were young kids. There probably isn’t a player, aside from those on the Nationals, that’s doing a better job of recruiting Harper than Bryant, so that gives the Cubs a chance. With the luxury tax to consider, ultimately, it might be too much for the Cubs to give Harper the contract he’s looking for, especially with Bryant eventually due for a monster contract extension of his own.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
After falling short of the World Series in two straight seasons, it would not be surprising if the Dodgers go all-out and attempt to sign another difference-maker for their lineup. With Harper added to a roster that will get All-Star shortstop Corey Seager back (while losing Manny Machado), LA would have to feel pretty good about their chances to win another pennant in 2019.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
Harper might be interested in joining a traditional franchise like the Cardinals—a team that seems to be in the mix every year. Signing with the Red Birds would make it unlikely he’s on a bad team in his career when you consider the franchise is one of the best in baseball, which is important because Harper wants to win games. Also, St. Louis is probably willing to offer Harper a boatload of money as they look to get back in the championship mix.
5. San Francisco Giants
The Giants are similar to the Cardinals in that they have been a National League power that’s looking to get back atop the league. However, they appear to be further off than the Cardinals are, which might lead to some pause for Harper. The good news is they have the money for a record-breaking contract, and Harper might want to play half his games at AT&T Park as he climbs up the home run leaderboard for his career.
4. New York Mets
The Mets rumors started because Harper apparently moved into a Long Island City apartment where four Mets players live. It could just be a real-estate deal, but it feels enough to connect the dots a bit and consider the power-hitting outfielder might consider going to the “other” team in New York. If the Yankees don’t want Harper but he wants to play in New York, it might not be so crazy. He could look to bring the franchise back to prominence and become a legend in the city, even if it’s not in the pinstripes. Also, Harper has spoken glowingly of the Mets’ exceptional starting pitchers, so he probably feels he can help boost the offense and win a lot of games with them.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have long been connected to both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and it’s easy to see why. The organization has a massive amount of money with a relatively small payroll, and they can basically give Harper whatever he wants. Harper has had his share of success against the Phillies, so they might be subconsciously a team he feels good about giving serious thought. And he could probably pop 40-50+ home runs per season while playing his home games at Citizen’s Bank Park. If going for eye-popping numbers, San Francisco and Philadelphia are two of the best spots for Harper.
2. Washington Nationals
According to the Washington Post, the Nationals made Harper an “aggressive offer” to retain their franchise cornerstone. Harper has said he likes playing in Washington D.C., where he grew up and helped lead the turnaround for the franchise. Additionally, it’s not like the nation’s capital is some small-market where he’s obscure. There’s something about playing for one team in a legendary career, and Harper has a chance to do that while making more money than he’ll ever need.
1. New York Yankees
That said, it feels like Harper wants to play for the Yankees. Back before he became an MLB star, a young Harper laid out four big goals to Sports Illustrated: “Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can’t wait.” Well, he has his chance to play in the pinstripes this year and beyond. Harper’s agent Scott Boras saying on MLB Network Radio that his client can play first base if needed. It could be to build up his value via supposed positional versatility, but to me it sounds like someone really wants to play for the Yankees, who don’t have first base completely locked up with Luke Voit and Greg Bird in the mix.