(Photo Credit: New York Post)
Time is now for Dodgers to land Bryce
By Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello)
The Los Angeles Dodgers gave everyone an early Christmas gift last weekend (or stocking full of coal depending on how you view it) when they made that blockbuster trade with the Cincinnati Reds shipping off All-Stars Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer for pitcher Homer Bailey (now released) and two prospects.
While it may take time for the initial shock of trading two beloved players in Kemp and Puig to subside, the business behind this move should be acknowledged: dump salary and open roster spots to make an even bigger splash this offseason.
We all know who that whale is the Dodgers are trying to spear: six-time All-Star and former NL MVP Bryce Harper, the biggest free agent in baseball this winter.
There have been numerous reports about how close the Dodgers and Harper could be to reaching an agreement, especially after a successful meeting in his hometown of Las Vegas earlier this month during the annual MLB winter meetings.
The question becomes despite the interest, can the Dodgers make this happen and give Bryce what he wants financially while still avoiding cap and luxury tax problems.
With this trade, the Dodgers save $7 million in actual salary and $16 million in luxury-tax calculations. Their 2019 payroll is still projected to be about $186 million. It will likely be much more assuming they reel in Harper and possibly other impact pieces like ace Corey Kluber and All-Star catcher JT Realmuto.
The Dodgers front office brass and ownership group has likely sold Harper on playing in LaLa land: the weather, Hollywood, increased marketing of his brand, the culture and tradition of the franchise, and playing for a World Series-caliber team.
The tricky part for president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is to sell him on taking a shorter term deal at five years with big bucks guaranteed instead of an eight-to-ten year monster contract that he desires.
With the market of financially capable teams starting to shrink, the Dodgers look like a favorite to sign Harper. Also worth noting, they wouldn’t have made a massive trade like that if they didn’t believe the same thing.
If Harper wants to play for a winner, who better than the Dodgers? The Phillies and the White Sox could offer him the money and years and have talented young cores, but if they had that leverage and belief he would sign with them, he would be in Philly or Chicago by now.
That leaves the Dodgers as the most viable option. Even if they aren’t offering a 10-year deal, it wouldn’t be so bad for Bryce, 26, to sign for five years and hit free agency again at 31-years-old. He would still be at his peak.
Many believe instead of prioritizing Harper, they should be more aggressive in adding a proven winner in Kluber to beef up their rotation or trade for Realmuto to fill that hole behind the plate while adding a right-handed bat to the lineup.
According to reports and sources, the Dodgers are still very interested in both, but Harper should remain the priority, because he is still one of the best players in the game.
He could finally help get them over that World Series hump. Remember what Kevin Durant did for the Golden State Warriors? Maybe Harper could do that for the Dodgers.
The time is now for the Dodgers to get him and these other guys and keep that championship window open even longer.