In a vacuum, Dodgers fans should be excited about 2019. The team is coming off back-to-back NL pennants, projections have them cruising to a seventh-consecutive NL West division crown, and they have one of the more talented teams in the baseball.
Of course, the Dodgers are also coming off back-to-back World Series losses, the talent now is probably inferior to the teams that lost in the past years, and it’s now been back-to-back off-seasons of relatively quiet activity (also, Clayton Kershaw might be dead).
So what better way to change the mood around the team by signing Bryce Harper, right? Right, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
The Dodgers have actually been talking to him for two weeks, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
From the start, Bryce Harper has sought a decade-long-plus deal. There is no indication, sources said, that has changed. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have long been opposed to very long-term deals. Still, the Dodgers’ emergence has thrown a fascinating wrench into these negotiations.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 25, 2019
Of course, that last part is the problem. The interest appears to be serious and mutual, but the actual contract they’re willing to offer Harper remains the same in that it’s a short-term deal, and perhaps they get creative with like opt-outs and incentives.
This information seems to dovetail with Mark Walter recently claiming the Dodgers have no directive to get under the luxury tax, which you can believe to whatever extent you want.
“No,” Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter said Saturday at Camelback Ranch. “Stan and Andrew run all that and they do what they think is best for the team, period, and to win.”
“Friedman and Kasten make all of the decisions,” Walter said, “and they do what they think is the smartest thing to win.”
I, for one, totally believe that they are allowed to spend $400 million but have just happened to stop just before crossing into the luxury tax for coincidental baseball reasons.
Where’s my shill check?
Anyway, this all makes sense as a rumor because surely the Dodgers would love a potential elite-level player and Harper would love to make a ton of money on a West Coast team that competes annually. But while I hate to be cynical about the Dodgers chances here, it’s also hard to be optimistic. Unless the actual years/money the Dodgers are willing to commit changes, Harper would really have to hate playing for the Phillies or White Sox or even Giants to take a whole lot less guaranteed money from the Dodgers, not to mention Scott Boras going against his track record as an agent.
That mantra from Brim and Dustin (and myself, to an extent) is difficult to argue with, but this definitely feels like false hope at the moment due to the aforementioned reasons, though it’s also definitely one thing I’d love to be wrong on.
Guess we’ll see which wins out between my pessimism and Bob Nightengale’s track record of forever being wrong.