Once completed, the fallout from the Giancarlo Stanton trade is going to be extensive. The trade’s impact will be felt for many years to come, and it will be felt by several more teams than just the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. That’s because it will also impact the futures of several players. Perhaps none more notable than Bryce Harper, whose pending free agency after the 2018 season will now enter an entirely different landscape with the Yankees committed to Stanton.
The general feeling has always been that the Yankees would be among Harper’s most aggressive suitors. Does that change now that Stanton and his $22 million annual hit against the luxury tax will be on the Yankees payroll? Does he even fit now with Judge and Stanton presumably filling two-thirds of the Yankees outfield on a daily basis?
Those are questions we can’t confidently answer, mainly because we can never predict which way the Yankees will go next. But we do know it would be difficult for general manager Brian Cashman to make it work, which means the Bryce Harper sweepstakes could be wide open. In that case, if you thought the Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes were crazy, they might be nothing compared to the race for Harper once that ball gets rolling.
The Yankees being out or limited would be good news for a lot of teams who were planning to go all-in on Harper, and perhaps even some presumably on the fringe. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at some of those teams and what their chances of signing Harper might be in wake of Stanton going to the Yankees.
No team’s optimism got a bigger boost on Saturday than Harper’s current one. The Nationals have the financial flexibility to give Harper the record-breaking deal he’ll most certainly seek. That was never going to be the issue. The issue was how motivated Harper would be to return, and the Yankees interest figured to play a big role in that. If the Yankees end up out, then the Nationals will have a fighting chance to re-sign their franchise player.
At this point the Cubs have to be considered a frontrunner to sign Harper. Even with Jason Heyward’s bad contract on the books, they too have the flexibility to offer a record deal. They also seem to have Harper’s attention. His friendship with Kris Bryant is what has most people drawing that connection, but there’s a feeling playing everyday at Wrigley Field is high on Harper’s baseball bucket list. A year from now, we may see just how high it is.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers could have easily traded for hometown slugger Giancarlo Stanton if they wanted to. They were one of four teams he would have waived his no-trade clause for, and reports suggest they were his preferred destination. Instead, the Dodgers took a pass, electing to keep their payroll at a reasonable level. Whether that’s in anticipation of reworking Clayton Kershaw’s deal, which has an opt-out after 2018, or making a run at Harper or another free agent is all to be determined. What we know is the Dodgers have money to spend if they want to, so they’ll always be in the mix.
Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants
While the Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers standout as potential suitors, there’s a large group of teams that are seemingly on the fringe. Of that group, the Red Sox, Phillies and Giants feel like the biggest threats to make a strong run. All three teams should have money to spend, though that could change if the Giants make a splashy move this winter. Depending on how the season goes, the Red Sox might be desperate to counter the Yankees adding Stanton. As for the Phillies, their rebuild is at the point where they’re ready to add big pieces. None would be bigger than Harper.
Of course, this is just the landscape as it stands now. A lot can change in 12 hours, let alone 12 months. What makes sense now might not next winter. Especially if the Nationals were to actually trade or even re-sign Harper beforehand. But it’s always interesting to think about.
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