The White Sox should sign Bryce Harper
August 6, 2018
As the trade deadline has passed Sox fans, such as me, cast an eye towards the off-season and the free agent class of 2018. A lot has been made of the White Sox desire to sign Manny Machado. I would be happy with that signing but I think that the team should target Bryce Harper. Why you ask, let me explain.
Talent – There is no doubt that putting Bryce Harper in the White Sox lineup would immediately make him the most talented player on the roster. If one were to look at the White Sox roster, 25 and 40 man, you would be hard pressed to find ½ of the current roster that would be a player on a championship caliber team. The team is also in a situation where they are trying to build from the bottom up. This would require pieces to be filled in via free agency, which the team has acknowledged is something they will have to do.
Grit – This team is a bunch of “nice guys”. To quote Paul Konerko you can’t have a team full of “milk drinkers”. This team needs toughness, think of it as the AJ effect. Bryce would immediately add this. Overnight he would bring a grit to the clubhouse that is sorely needed.
Business / Marketing – This is where the true crux of my argument lies. The team will be entering into a new TV contract in 2019, which means more money. As such, they will need something to market as the face of the franchise. Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada just won’t work in this function and I’m sorry but a pitcher, unless it is someone the level of Clayton Kershaw, shouldn’t be the face of your franchise since they pitch once every five days. Bryce Harper would be the perfect person to fill this role. He is young, dynamic, and has thrived under pressure since he was a 16-year-old on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Further, after the last couple of seasons the team will need to do something to keep the fans engaged. Kopech and Jimenez will sell tickets, but nothing compared to what Bryce Harper could do, in my opinion. Signing Harper will also send a message to the rest of the league that the White Sox are open for business, like the message sent by the Washington Nationals when they signed Jayson Werth.
Money – Money should not be an issue. The team sat on the roughly $50 million they received from MLB for the sale of MLB Advanced Media. They have slashed payroll to have one of the lowest, now I believe the lowest, payrolls in baseball and they are building a roster of young, cheap, controllable talent that will allow them to more effectively deploy money on areas of need. Further, James Shields most likely comes off the books next year making even more money available.
Contract – What would a potential contract look like. In my opinion I see a 12-year deal for roughly 375 – 400 million. The key to the contract will be front loaded money and an opt-out after three years. This is how it can be done. This will allow Scott Boras to claim he got the largest contract for his client while also allowing his client to opt out after three years while still in his “prime”. It would also allow the White Sox to avoid committing to a long-term deal, especially with the next Collective Bargaining Agreement looking like it will be contentious negotiation. It would be a win-win for all parties.
I can already hear the screams of Jerry will NEVER do that. Let’s look at some of the other things that Jerry would never do.
Pay a tax on signing players – This has been done twice in the last year with the Robert signing (International tax of 50%) and a tax on going over draft pool money for the 2018 draft class.
Trade with the Cubs – This was done with the Quintana for Jimenez and Cease deal.
Pay money to send a player away – See Jeff Keppinger
There is one more “won’t do” item that can be checked off. Sign a Boras client. Carlos Rodon, Andruw Jones and Joe Crede were Boras clients and from feedback from Boras, regarding the handling of Rodon, he thought Rick Hahn did a great job. Remember, it is Rick Hahn on the front line, not Kenny Williams.
Will the Harper signing happen, I do not know, but I think for the reasons above it makes complete roster and business sense? I believe it also sends a message to the team and the fan base that the White Sox are serious and are truly trying to build a world class championship organization. I will also add that I know he is a polarizing figure, but so was AJ and look at his revered status. Also remember Jerry is in his 80’s, so he may also believe he would not be the one paying the contract.
The Winter Meetings will be an interesting watch, and frankly I think this is the White Sox move for the reasons I have listed.
Feel free to let me know what you think.