A few threads back, Bat571 opined that the M's should be in the middle of the Bryce Harper scrum. You know, Bat is a wise man and he's right. We should be in.
With all the Padres talk, and that of the White Sox, Cubs, Phillies and just about anybody else, it now appears clear that several "mystery" teams have done more than inquire about Harper. It has also been reported that the Nationals actually offered Harper a 10-year deal for more than the $300M that has been reported.
But here we are, closing in on Spring Training, and Harper has no deal and those "mystery" teams are sniffing around. Both would indicate that ten years, the contract length he and Boras want, is not going to happen. And if there were a $300M contract on the table right now, I think Harper would grab it in a hurry. It appears that he and his agent may have overestimated just how much (and for how long) he could bring home. I've listened to MLB Radio a bunch over the last week or so, and it seems that nobody there thinks he gets either 10 years or $300M.
So if the number of years has fallen to 8 or 7 or 5, then the magic formula is going to be AAV. Harper will want something of a Grande AAV and he will want something flexible, a contract with an escape clause a few years down the line.
There is no reason that the M's can not meet those two demands.
To wit: After the '19 seasons concludes, our hometown good guys will have right at $49.5M available due to the expiring contracts of Felix and Encarnacion. Well, OK, we may have $6M in buyout costs for those two guys. Still, we have a ton of cash available. And then there is the nearly $28M that is cleared after the following season, when Gordon and Bruce come off the books. Oh, add the $15M from Mike Leake's contract that clears after '20, as well. Seager's contract we're stuck with. All the other lucrative contracts that we have are entirely easy to dispose of. But beyond that, really the only two young guys that we have who will get rich in the next three seasons are Mitch Haniger and Mallex Smith, and the both of them are easily swapped out, in a hurry (more below).
So there will soon be money available to spend, lots of it, even by the Mariner's usual thrifty fashion.
So a shortish contract, with an easy opt-out and a Himalayan-high AAV is entirely possible for the Mariners to manage and just might be enough to get the interest of Scott "Beelzebub" Borus.
And here's the reason why we should consider it: Bryce Harper is a HOF type LHB vs. RHP. The guy creams righties.
Minus his one injury shortened season, Harper has never OPS'ed less that .833 vs. RHP (and that with a .391 OBP), has twice been over 1.000, and has a career number of .944!
To give you a contextual sense of a career .944, Willie McCovey's career vR OPS was .926. He's in the HOF. Ken Griffey, Jrs.' was .936. He's in the Hall. Big Papi's was .981, He's going to the Hall. Larry Walker's was .993 and he played in Colorado! OK, he's not in the HoF, but he played in Colorado! Figure him for 100 OPS pts less if he played elsewhere. Harper is better! And Mel Ott's career OPS vR was .950. Harper is sort of an Ott. Or maybe he's sort of a Junior? Take your pick, I don't care. Junior slugged .554 vs. RHP. Lest you think that Harper's numbers are built upon BB's, he has slugged .543. That's Mel pictured above, by the way. Tom Emanski, hitting video guru, would be appalled at Ott's stroke. Well, stuff it Tom; Mel knows best.
All of those LHB's named above were productive long after the age of 26, which is where Harper is right now. Harper isn't going to fall apart guys. He might be sort of a dink, or a World Class one (which I'm not quite buying) but the guy can beat up RHP. He had a terrible dWAR last season but that was mostly due to the fact that he had 59 starts in CF. From '15-'17, when he was almost exclusively a RF, he was a (combined) -0.5 fielder. Over three seasons, that's about a 1.5 drop from Haniger. Peanuts.
Oh, by the way, Jose Altuve has a career OPS vs. lefties of .887. Mike Trout hits lefties to the tune of .940. Harper is better vs. RHP than Altuve is vs. lefties!! He's Trout's equal, in that regard. OK, Trout does hit 1.006 vs. RHP. That's why he's on the very very short list of the greatest RHBs of all time.
Add it up how you want, but Bryce Harper is a generational RHP-ripping talent. Manny Machado, seeking a huge payday himself, hits left-handed throwers at an .816 rate. OK, he plays SS, I get it. Gimme Harper instead: Every day and twice on Opening Day.
Some team is going to AAV Harper to the tune of a $35M-ish payday. They are going to have him locked for for 4 or 5 years with a Player Option for the next season. That's my bet. Maybe 6 and 7. Something like that. Why not make it the Seattle Mariners?
Bite the bullet and pay him $25M this season. Give him $45M next season. Give him $30M and $35M the next two seasons with a Player Option for the following. He collects nearly $165M over 5 year and then goes out for another contract. If you only have him for 4 seasons, big deal, we're supposed to be competitive in '21, anyway. We've now got young guys in the pipeline, OF bats poised to be MLB-ready by the time he and Haniger make their escape. If Smith makes too much in three seasons, big deal......we have plenty of young CF's down on the farm.
Heck, if you need arms, trade Haniger for them: Like it or not, he's not Harper.....and he's mostly likely going to be gone about the same time, anyway.
The Felix and EE money allow you to do it. Leake, Gordon and Bruce go away soon enough and then you spend that cash elsewhere.
Harper CAN be a Mariner. Let's see Jerry pull a Jedi mind trick and make it so (mixing SciFi metaphors, I know).
I'm with Bat571. We're not real GM's, but we do play them on SSI.