When, yesterday morning, former GM and current MLB analyst Jim Bowden tweeted that there was not one, but multiple mystery teams “in on Bryce Harper that the public is not aware of …” I took it with just about the largest grain of salt possible. Or the smallest? Whichever one means I didn’t buy it.
For one, the entire premise of the rumor is outrageous: we’re on the good side of Groundhog Day and the top free agent of the last decade hasn’t just not signed with a team yet, but doesn’t even have an obvious, known collection of finalists vying for his services?! But it’s totally out there and known that there ARE lots of unknown teams involved? I mean, come on.
Then, Jon Heyman drops this on us:
Hear at least 8 teams are still checking in on Harper, though at least a couple/few of them are likely thinking short-term
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 4, 2019
It is, of course, always possible that both Heyman and Bowden were sung a similar song by a party interested in seeing the price tag on Harper continue to rise (or at least not bottom out) – it has happened before – but this sort of rumor doesn’t strike me that way. Throwing in a singular mystery team near the end of negotiations might have the desired effect on the front runner if there’s not enough serious competition, but reminding folks that there are EIGHT?! teams out there is something else. Speaking of which, do we know which teams those are?
Let’s see …
Almost Definitely In
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Chicago White Sox
- San Diego Padres
Very Likely In
- Washington Nationals
Probably In on a Shorter-Term Deal
- Los Angeles Dodgers
I Mean, Maaaaaaybe, But Probably Not
- Chicago Cubs
- New York Yankees
Even if we’re REALLY generous, I count 7 teams in one Bryce Harper and, frankly, I think two of those teams above (Cubs, Yankees) are probably not all that likely to even be involved at this point, let alone likely destinations. And the Padres only just jumped into the fray.
For what it’s worth, Jim Bowden said he reached out to a bunch of teams, but couldn’t figure out who the mystery teams were, then just ended his tweet with “#Braves ? #Cardinals ? #Astros ? #Giants ? #Angels ? #Yankees ? #BlueJays ? I give up.” I don’t know if that means those are the teams he called who are not in, or those are the teams that he didn’t call who could be in, or if they’re just his guesses, or what. But it felt worth sharing (though now I’m having second thoughts … since we don’t even know what the intention was).
With this latest wrinkle to Harper’s story, I must admit: this is as opaque as ever.
Even as the markets for guys like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer and JD Martinez slowed to a crawl late last year, we had a very good sense of which one or two or three teams were the finalists for each player by this point.
Similarly, on Harper, it seemed for a long while like this was coming down to three teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox). But for whatever reason none of them got it done and all hell has broken loose. I guess there are a bunch of mystery teams – as many as eight total clubs – in on Bryce Harper as we near the second week of February. Go figure.