Bryce Harper’s looming free agency is an important baseball-wide story, but also one near and dear to our hearts, as I’ll make no bones about it: I hope the Cubs seriously pursue the generational 25-year-old talent.
Harper is a freakish talent, whose slash line this year is down-ish (.228/.360/.509, 127 wRC+) only because of a .216 BABIP that is completely unsupported by how he’s actually hitting the ball (among other metrics, his hard contact rate is top 25 in baseball, and his soft contact rate is the 6th smallest). He’s great. He’s just great.
So you’ll consider me surprised to see an anonymous “top” NL executive texting scathing comments about Harper to FRS’s Robert Murray.
Among them: “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 …. 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.”
Geez. Not holding back.
Now then, my instincts on extreme comments like this are usually one of:
- Dude is bitter about something particular that happened in the background or behind the scenes, and he’s translating it into this kind of “losing player” thing.
- Dude is kind of an over-the-top type who is exaggerating.
- Dude is actually deeply interested in pursuing Harper, and is all too happy to get this commentary out there.
Who knows the truth, but I have a hard time taking the comments at face value, given Harper’s performance in his career, and his all-out style of play. As for projection on the level of Harper’s contract, I think you’d be nuts to be surprised if he tops $300 million. Extreme players get extreme contracts, and when it’s a guy who’ll be turning 26 this offseason, there’s simply no reason not to see him seeking to top Giancarlo Stanton’s 10-year, $325 million deal. And if you’ve got big market teams like the Cubs and Dodgers and Phillies – heck, even with their outfield, you can never rule out the Yankees – going after Harper, the contract could become truly silly.
In other words, I just don’t take much from these comments, other than noting that it’s really interesting just how aggressive they are.
The rest of Murray’s notes are worth a read by the way, including some laudatory comments about Cubs SVP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod up top, and Murray’s belief that the Brewers will be going after a big-time starting pitcher at the Trade Deadline.