The Los Angeles Dodgers completed a blockbuster trade on Friday, the key components of which sent star outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp along with starting pitcher Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects.
Despite the significance of the players involved, only one player, one who wasn’t part of the transaction, comes to mind — Bryce Harper.
The 26-year old is one of the most coveted free agents in MLB history, and the Dodgers fit the mold of big-market-big-spender. Coming just short of its first World Series title since 1988, the franchise is looking to retool and find the missing piece.
Harper is clearly a special player capable of serving as the face of a franchise. Much like NBA superstar LeBron James, Harper has an opportunity to come to the second-largest media market in the country in order to build an empire around the corporation that bears his name.
The Dodgers now have fewer egos to deal with given the departure of Puig and a resurgent Kemp, who had a remarkable comeback season in 2018. Though personality conflicts were never a major issue with that group, opening the door for Harper to stand alone as the clear-cut centric piece of what was once a crowded outfield is a key move.
It’s no secret the Dodgers have eyes for the Las Vegas native — every team does. But the Dodgers are in the enviable position of being a realistic suitor. That makes this move all the more telling.
After signing reliever Joe Kelly, Los Angeles solidified one of its major areas of vulnerability in the bullpen. The payroll now has some wiggle room to not only add Harper, but other impact players out on the market.
Harper is going to command a mind-boggling contract, likely in upwards of $300 million. Only a handful of teams are real possibilities at that price tag.
The Dodgers have not only demonstrated they’re in this class of big spenders, but they now have become stronger buyers in the market.
Ultimately, it will be Harper’s decision. The Dodgers are doing everything they can to make it an easy one for him.
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