Why Not Signing Bryce Harper was the Right Thing to do for the Nationals
By: John Cascella
Bryce Harper is one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball, but he is not worth a 13-year contract worth 330 million dollars including possible millions of dollars in incentives.
Bryce was too Inconsistent
Harper had a great, but inconsistent career with the Nationals. Bryce started his career in 2012, winning the National League Rookie of the Year after hitting 22 home runs, driving in 59 runs, and had a .270 batting average. Then, in his junior season, he hit 13 home runs, drove in 32 runs, and had a .270 batting average in 395 plate appearances. The next season he won MVP of the National League. One-year Bryce Harper can be a top five player in the league, the next he could be a below average player. He has been an All-Star for the past four seasons, but last season he had a .249 batting average in 159 games. The Nationals dodged a bullet paying him about 33 million-dollars a year for 13 years.
The Nationals are Full in the Outfield
Any team would love to have someone on their team with the amount of Harper’s upside and talent, but the Nationals already have a good enough outfield without him: featuring the NL Rookie of the Year Runner-Up in Juan Soto, the number four prospect in MLB in Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton who hit .301 last season. Soto and Robles have a very high upside as young players, and Eaton is a solid player. The Nationals saved millions of dollars, which can be used to upgrade positions in the future or sign Anthony Rendon, an MVP candidate, to a contract extension.
The Nationals Can’t Afford to Pay Him
Bryce declined the Nat’s 10 year 300-million-dollar contract at the end of the 2018 season. Signing Harper would have pushed the Nationals over the Luxury Tax for the third straight year. Last year it set the Nationals back 2.4 million dollars in possible. This season the Nats are paying five different players 10 plus million dollars a year, with a 2019 payroll of 196.5 million dollars. The price the Nats would have to pay to sign him is not worth it in the end.
The Nationals not signing Harper was smart, but the Phillies got him instead, which may be a cause for concern. Harper makes the team he plays on better, so the Nats will have to watch out for the Phillies as they just made the NL East much more competitive.