If ever there was a baseball marriage made in heaven, it’s the knot between Bryce Harper and the Yankees. Why isn’t it happening?
Manny Machado comes off the board secure for the next decade and $300 million. Not so with Bryce Harper who still doesn’t have a job for 2019 and beyond. What’s the problem, money? Can’t be, and there shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind that Harper will sign the richest contract ever awarded to a major league ballplayer, Giancarlo Stanton included.
So, what could it be beside the obstinance of Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, to keep the saga going as long as possible, ensuring his guy and himself are adequately displayed on the back pages of newspapers and the main topic on Twitter, despite the average fan’s wilting interest as Opening Day moves ever closer? But it can’t be that sinister, can it?
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies, consternated entirely by the loss of Machado to the lowly Padres, and under the gun of their ubiquitous owner who wildly proclaimed he was ready to “spend stupidly” to do whatever he thinks money can buy these days in baseball, trying with all they have to salvage that bravado.
This, while all indications point to Manny Machado having achieved the Daily Double, with the $$ and a place where he is happy, along with his wife, to spend the next decade of his baseball life. Isn’t that what free agency is supposed to be all about, and if it is, where is Bryce Harper in this equation.
The photo to the right is not photoshopped. It’s real, and it demonstrates an underlying theme to Harper’s quest for his Daily Double unless we’ve overestimated what Harper is striving for.
Bryce Harper could be the 21st Century version of Mickey Mantle. It’s all laid out for him. The short porch in right field awaits as an inviting target for balls a quarter of an inch off the sweet spot to still sail for a home run.
But it hasn’t happened, has it? Seemingly, the Yankees are not even on Scott Boras’s speed dial when it comes to getting the latest from teams for his client. And the reverse also appears to be the same as Brian Cashman remains eerily quiet.
Or maybe not. Cashman has exhibited certain stealth in his maneuverings as the Yankees GM that precedes even his reputation. But, and it’s a big but, the luxury tax, unlike the apparent disregard or concern of his rival in Boston, looms as something real and important to the Yankees franchise we know today.
So while there was a time when Brian Cashman had to tell his boss (then), “George, we can’t have everybody,” the business model of the Yankees has changed, no matter who likes it – or not.
Thus, we reach the crux of the matter and whether or not Bryce Harper (really) wants the opportunity to have his monument on display at Yankee Stadium – or not. The Yankees are not going ten years – or even eight years for a player who, as of now (and based on his career stats) would have zero chance of making it to Cooperstown.
So, what is Bryce Harper willing to give for the opportunity to be the next Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle? Would he sign, for instance, a four or six-year deal for $40 million per with a couple of opt-outs, one for him and one for the Yankees, along the way?
Manny Machado gives every indication of being happy in having decided to play, ironically, in a city as far away from New York as possible. As far as I know, he never walked out to Monument Park at Yankee Stadium as Bryce Harper once did.
That tells me something. And it should tell Bryce Harper something…..
Postscript: 6:02 PM EST 2/24/2019
As I wrote this, reports from ESPN and others indicate the Phillies are on the verge of signing Bryce Harper. If that’s true, we’ll see how it plays out down the road. But nothing can convince me otherwise that he’ll regret having passed on the opportunity to be a New York Yankee.