Consider the game changed. Late Monday night, reports surfaced that the Washington Nationals have made Bryce Harper available. With less than 24 hours to go until the non-waiver deadline, Washington just altered the entire landscape. The Yankees should act accordingly, and pull out all the stops to land the superstar.
Harper, 25, is having a down year, but by his standards. He’s hitting .220/.369/.473 with 25 home runs. That’s still good for a 121 wRC+. Even when Harper isn’t at his best, he’s still really good. After all, we’re talking about a career 139 wRC+ batter. And he’s one who could reach the upper echelons of the game’s most prodigious hitters.
With Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez sidelined for the better part of the next month, the Yankees should absolutely go all out in pursuit of Harper. Landing him would result in a tectonic shift in the American League. It would be a move that strikes fear into the Red Sox and Astros, and who wouldn’t want that?
The question, of course, comes down to price, both in terms of prospects and cash. The Manny Machado trade serves as a useful benchmark. The Dodgers landed the shortstop in exchange for a Yusniel Diaz headlined package. Diaz now sits as the 57th best prospect in baseball, per MLB.com. They included four other lesser, but still good, prospects. That’s a deal the Yankees could definitely make. They have the prospects to swing a trade.
The problem, however, comes down to the finances and competition. Virtually every contender will be engaged in Harper. If this turns into a bidding war, I’m not sure Brian Cashman and company would push all the chips onto the table. The Yankees don’t actually need an outfielder, at least not as badly as the Cleveland Indians do.
Then there’s the luxury tax implications. Harper is owed the prorated portion of his $21,625,000 contract. That would blow the team’s financial plan out of the water, unless they convince Washington to eat most of the deal. That would require an even larger premium in terms of prospects, though. Would the Yankees let a talent like Harper, one who could swing the division pendulum in their favor, go because of tax money? I hope not.
While he is a rental, Harper has made no secret that he aspires to play for the Yankees. He has been saying as much since he was 16. Getting him suited up in pinstripes during the middle of a pennant race would be a great way to convince him to stick around long term.
What do you think, Pinstripe Alley community? Would you sell the farm for Harper? Or should Cashman stick to lesser players like Curtis Granderson and Cameron Maybin? Let us know in the comment section below!