There is a huge Free Agent class coming up at the end of this season, with big names like Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, and Josh Donaldson coming onto the market. MLB clubs are pinching their pennies this season, scrimping and saving for what will undoubtedly be the most expensive off-season of signings ever.
One of, if not, the biggest name in the bunch is Bryce Harper, Nationals superstar. He’s a key reason for the Nationals’ middling success over the last few years, but the rest of the clubs are itching to see what he could be like on a team with serious postseason potential, like the Dodgers or Yankees. After all, the Nationals have never even won the pennant.
Rookie of the Year and a 5-time All-Star, Harper is a bonafide star in the league. In 2015, he hit 42 homers and was National League MVP. Despite batting in the low .200s this season with a .369 OBP, he’s leading the NL with 19 home runs.
But according to Robert Murray, not everyone feels that Harper is worth the expected $300-$350 million-dollar contract he has coming to him. In a series of text messages to Murray, an unnamed, but high-level National League exec called Harper a “selfish, losing player.” He went on to say that he “would not give him 10 years,” noting that Harper is not “worth it.”
“He’s simply overrated. The good ain’t worth the bad. He’s a losing player. Cares about himself more than the team. If I was in charge and had money, my team would not pursue him. We would use that money to sign 2-3 winning players.”
“He’s a losing player. I would not sign him. I would use that money to sign 2-3 winning players.”
“If he gets more than 10-years, $300 million, I’d be surprised. I would not give him 10 years period and certainly not at that AAV. He’s just not worth it. He’s a selfish, losing player.”
Does Bryce Harper appear selfish because he’s playing on a team that has never even won the pennant, or is he really not a team player, a solo superstar who might actually be poisonous to a team? It’s worth noting that like Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 homers last season, Harper’s standout season in 2015 has not been his norm; he’s never surpassed 29 homers in any of his other 6 seasons. His 99 RBIs in 2015 are also far higher than any other year; statistically, he appears a somewhat selfish player, one who likes to hit it out of the park but isn’t bringing a lot of runners home. Mookie Betts, for example, let the 2017 Red Sox with only 24 home runs, but he had 102 RBIs. By contrast, Harper’s 2017 saw 29 homers with just 87 RBIs. The Nationals are 473-357 when Bryce Harper is in the lineup in his career, but their lack of a World Series trophy speaks for itself.
Nats GM Mike Rizzo came to his defense, saying, “He’s been a winner his whole life… He’s won more games since he’s been called up to the big leagues than any player in the major leagues.” He also had a bit of a Terry Collins-esque moment when he added, “it’s cowardly, it’s chicken s***, and it’s gutless” for an exec to make anonymous comments about a player.
Perhaps it’s a Nomar Garciaparra situation; the Red Sox won their first World Series after trading the superstar we thought we couldn’t live without. The Red Sox probably can’t afford him; they already have the highest payroll in baseball by tens of millions. But one thing’s for certain: Harper is a catch with big money coming to him. Whether or not he’ll be worth the price tag remains to be seen.