This is when baseball talks tend to heat up. And when it comes to marquee free agent Bryce Harper, it is no different. A plethora of teams have or will travel to Las Vegas to sit down with Harper hoping to lure the big bat to their squad, per Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
So far, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees are among the teams to have met with Harper. The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres are making a trip to make their pitch as well. Of course, this year’s MLB winter meetings will begin on Sunday in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Cha-ching.
However, the Dodgers have an ace up their sleeve. Magic Johnson, who also recruited LeBron James to L.A., will try to talk Harper into signing with the Dodgers. But reports are indicating that Johnson hasn’t met with Harper since two years ago, adds Passan and Brown.
Meanwhile, the White Sox sent Hall of Famer Jim Thome to talk with Harper as part of their recruitment method. He is no stranger to Chicago, as he hit 134 home runs while with the club between 2006 and 2009.
Despite the Phillies being all in for Harper and ownership saying they’re ready to be “a little bit stupid” this offseason, the team just shipped Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to Seattle for Jean Segura — plus pitchers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos.
The Yankees are on record saying that they’re not planning to pursue the outfielder in 2019. But internal talks within the organization suggest that if they were to sign him, they’d prefer he plays first base. That’s something he hasn’t done before.
Overall, it’s possible that the Nationals could keep him in Washington. But they would have to offer him a super contract worth $300 million over 10 years. Any contender or would-be contender could definitely use a superstar like the 2015 MVP in 2019. But the answer will come straight from his camp, and his alone.
Despite a low batting average, Harper put together a solid season in 2018. He still hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 dingers and 13 stolen bases in 159 games with the Nats. Coming off a down season (82-80), the Nationals need all the help they can get to get back to the postseason. Keeping their MVP-winning outfielder would go a long way.