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Sign Bryce Harper you cowards

We’re more than a week into January and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado don’t have contracts. Harper and Machado are the centrepieces of what was supposed to be the Big Free Agent Class of 2019 that everybody was saving up to go completely HAM over. Yet, here we are. Nobody wants to spend the money to bring them in.

According to Joe Bowden, only four teams are seriously in on Harper and Machado. Four teams! That means 26 teams in the Major League Baseball simply aren’t interested in adding two MVP-calibre players to their lineup through free agency. Teams have pushed away because they aren’t interested in signing on for the 10-year deals worth $300 million that both players are looking for.

I can see why teams are skeptical of mega deals. The deal Albert Pujols was handed by the Angels is an albatross, as, to a lesser extent, are the deals that were given to Joey Votto and Robinson Cano. That said, Harper and Machado are both 26 years of age, meaning you’d be buying their late-20s and early-30s, rather than late-30s and some of the early 40s like those other aforementioned mammoth contracts.

Bowden mentions Toronto as one of the teams not in on Harper who should be in on him.

How about the Blue Jays, who have one of the best farm systems in baseball? That farm system is about to produce some of the best infield prospects in the game. You’re telling me that signing Harper right now wouldn’t be a good move for Toronto? The Jays have the best prospect in the game in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., along with other rising stars like shortstop Bo Bichette and infielders Cavan Biggio and Kevin Smith. What they lack are top outfield prospects. Harper would give them an incredible 1-2 punch with Guerrero for years to come and put Toronto back on the map as contenders.

I mean… he isn’t wrong. The Jays are loaded on the infield in terms of prospects, but there isn’t much going on in the outfield.

The group pencilled in thus far for next year’s outfield isn’t really inspiring. Randel Grichuk is the best of the bunch, but he only has two control years before he can hit free agency, which doesn’t really coincide with Toronto’s contention window. Kevin Pillar is a decent two-win player, but everyone wants him gone, and it’s fair to expect his defence will deteriorate as he ages and his bat won’t be able to compensate. Billy McKinney and Teoscar Hernandez are interesting young players but neither profiles to be anything more than a solid everyday type, at best.

Beyond next year? Like I said, Grichuk can become a free agent after the 2020 season, as can Pillar. In the higher levels of the system, there’s Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr, Jonathan Davis, and Forrest Wall. Alford is the only one with real upside, but he had a terrible 2018 season that resulted in his status as a prospect taking a major hit.

After the 2019 season, the Jays’ books are pretty much wiped clean save for a $14 million sunk cost on Troy Tulowitzki. As the Large Adult Sons like Vlad, Bo, Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel, and so on become the focal point of the team, the Jays will be dirt cheap, giving them a lot of financial flexibility to flesh out the roster. Mark Shapiro has said that the Blue Jays will spend money when they’re ready in order to argument their core of internally drafted and developed talent. But why not dive in right now? Obviously, adding Harper won’t make the Jays a contender like that, but it would be an addition that matches up with the organization’s long-term contention plans.

Will a player as good as Harper be available to the Jays when they finally decide it’s time to dive in after the 2020 or 2021 season? Will they be available at the price Harper is going to be available at this winter? We have a possible lockout on the horizon for the 2022 season as the current MLB CBA expires in December 2021 which could result in free agent contracts skyrocketing beyond what they are right now.

If other teams around the league aren’t interested in spending money, swoop in and take advantage. In no normal world would Bryce Harper signing with the Blue Jays being a thing, but this weird, anti-FA market has made it possible. I know it’s a pipe dream, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Get Bryce Harper in the mix. He fits a positional need, he would take pressure off the Large Adult Sons, he would inject life back into the stadium, he would drive ticket and merchandise sales, and he fits with the team’s contention window.

  • The Humungus

    “After the 2019 season, the Jays’ books are pretty much wiped clean save for a $14 million sunk cost on Troy Tulowitzki.”

    When they bought out Tulo, all his salary counts on the 2019 team. So, they’re free from him and Martin and Morales after this season. Or $70M off the books ($38 for Tulo, $20 for Martin, $12 for Morales).

    Fucking sign Harper. 2 weeks into the season, your lineup looks like this:

    1. Travis (2B, assuming bounceback)
    2. Harper (RF)
    3. Vladito (3B)
    4. Smoak (1B)
    5. Morales (DH)
    6. Grichuk (CF)
    7. Jansen (C)
    8. Gurriel (SS)
    9. Teoscar/McKinney platoon (LF)

    And you just walk away from Pillar. Fuck it. That’s a batting order if Travis bounces back.

  • Sparky Blue

    What are you guys smoking down east? While I agree this makes sense you would have to squeeze Shapiro by the cajoles to get him to spend $30 Million on the entire 4 man outfield group, let alone one guy.

  • dolsh

    Harper makes sense for every team.

    He just happens to make more sense for Toronto than he does for nearly all of them…which is something I’ve been saying since the offseason started. The ideal spot for him is a young team that’s on the verge of contending. A team that will stay in a contending mode for the duration of the contract. The Phillies. The Braves. Definitely good spots. But…that team also kinda needs to have gobs of money, and a large market to sell shirseys to.

    Toronto should be the *perfect* spot for him.

  • Baileydog

    Absolutely. Sign Harper to a 10yr front loaded contract. As Vladdy and all the youngsters start getting into arbitration then you can make Harper’s deal cheaper. Just imagining a lineup that has Vladdy and Harper would be devestating for pitchers. A righty then a lefty with both OBS possibility over 400

  • Rogers/Bell should not secure your home

    Hey

    This is a legit question
    Obviously there not interested in Harper but in theory if they did could they structure it as such
    Y1 $80 mill
    Y2 $70 mill
    Y3-11 $25 mill
    Y12-13 $35 mill
    Y14-15 $40 mill

    I don’t believe mlb averages out a contract against the cap, just the current seasons check.

    Now Harper may not want this structure for tax purposes

    However he would get
    * $150 over next 2 years to invest
    sooner
    * possibly biggest contract in sports history (not sure about soccer)(important to Boras)
    *lifetime deal

    Jays would get
    *premium name to sell jerseys over next 2 years
    *affordable star when they need one
    * shatkins won’t be around for the tail end, and statistically most mega deals end up getting moved (not all of course, but for every Pujols there’s a cano)

    I am not a fan of signing Harper for more then 10y/$200mill but I guess my question is would, in theory this structured contract work under mlb rules?

    • Jay

      They can structure the contract anyway they and Harper see fit. The only questions are:

      1) Does it fit into the projected budget in any given year of the contract?

      2) The AAV will be structured evenly for the purposes of the luxury tax – do the Jays plan on being close to/at/over the tax level at any point of the contract?

      Realistically the numbers you propose are a touch on the crazypants side of life, but I like the idea of a front loaded contract – so long as there isn’t a player opt-out once he makes that mega cash!

    • Rob Ray

      Don’t forget Trump is in office for at least two more years which means the mega wealthy are in a lower tax bracket, so t million the first two years would be a big sell.

  • PastorofMuppets

    I don’t want to sound like one of those self-serving fucktrumpets, but I’ve been saying this ever since the baseball world started pining after this offseason years ago. Little by slowly, over the years, it actually started making MORE sense rather than less (last year’s stalled offseason gave a little hint as to the mentality of most organizations’ attitudes towards FA, and the Jays’ outfield depth taking a hit a la Alford injuries/setbacks and other prospects slow to develop). It started out as a troll (how did it end up so droll?) but I’m actually hardcore stumping for them to make a play, to be that mystery team. I think the biggest hurdles are actually convincing Harper to come north – playing on the carpet and leaving the states for a team that isn’t immediately contending could be a hard sell. He was a big fan of the bat flip if I recall; maybe sell him the idea of creating many other moments like that in an environment that fucking adores them would be a small, but effective aid? That and $350 million bones…

  • Oz Rob

    Getting Harper makes total sense except for one thing: why would he want to come here? The artificial turf? The excitement of a rebuild? The favourable exchange rate? Just because he would be a good fit doesn’t mean we can just reach out and grab him.

    • Steve-O

      If Harper (or Machado) wants to play on grass, or a place with lower taxes, or on a team better positioned to win now, or because they don’t like funny looking money, or whatever other reason is out there, that’s their prerogative and nobody should be mad about it. The point is the Jays should be TRYING to sign him.

  • DAKINS

    I think ownership is terrified of the new CBA. It’s expected that a salary cap might happen, which means they can use that as an excuse to limit player salary values. It seems like nobody wants to be the team stuck with the player making “old money”.

    • The Humungus

      I can’t see the players allowing a salary cap without 2 things:

      Disregarding contracts signed under the old CBA (basically a soft cap until those deals are grandfathered out)

      and a salary floor of at least $120M per team (which the owners will never go for, because Pittsburgh, Tampa and Oakland exist).

      The game is generating too much revenue right now to get a cap imposed due to financial distress, like hockey and the NBA had. And with guaranteed contracts and free agency, they don’t have the NFL’s excuses, either.