Dodgers: One Team Won the Off-Season; It Wasn’t the Dodgers

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – MARCH 02: Bryce Harper is introduced to the Philadelphia Phillies during a press conference at Spectrum Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Sign Bryce Harper

Now I’ll admit I was against the Dodgers signing Bryce Harper, as I wrote back in December. Here was my main argument on why the Dodgers would be best to let him sign elsewhere:

"My claim is that he is a bad fit for the Dodgers as they are currently constructed and that they would be better served finding more supplementary pieces or a different star rather than signing the biggest fish on the market today. For the money it would take to get Harper, the Dodgers could do so much more. His gigantic price tag could put the Dodgers in a hole for years to come, and this mega-salary would just be too risky for the benefits it could provide."

My argument hinged on the Dodgers signing small pieces and maintaining flexibility after the next few seasons. Some of this was because of the impending availability of big free agents arguably more-skilled and more stable than Harper, like Nolan Arenado and Mike Trout in the coming offseasons. But Arenado is now locked up to stick with Colorado and Trout’s price may far exceed the Dodgers options.

I also felt that resigning players like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Walker Buehler could be made difficult in the next four, five, six years if the Dodgers were hamstrung by a Harper megadeal.

The Phillies signed Harper to a 13-year deal with no opt-outs and a full no-trade clause, meaning both sides are firmly in this together. He got roughly $25 million per season for this deal, adding up to $330 million over the deal’s lifetime. While this is, of course, lots of money, the average annual value of this deal is not as astronomical as media reports had me believing back in December.

A $25 million per year Harper could have been a valuable addition to the Dodgers, but of course, the 13-year deal was too much of a commitment.

That’s why I loved the Dodgers’ reported 4-year, $185 million offer to Harper, one that would have destroyed any previous $-per-year record. The Dodgers would have been hamstrung for the life of that contract. They’d have had to have drawn even more from their farm system in order to fill their holes as they popped up over the next four years.

But the Dodgers could have done it. They have one of MLB’s best farm systems. They would have been over the luxury tax. Most importantly they would have been a near lock to win the National League for those next four seasons.

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Seeing how things played out in terms of Harper’s desire for a long-term deal, I am glad the Dodgers missed on Harper, but if he would have taken the precedent-shattering short-term deal from the Dodgers, I would have been all for the bold move from the front office.

Instead, the team ended up not only Harper-less but also without little to show from all of their offseason rumors. In reality, all they did of note was swap the fan-favorite Yasiel Puig and All-Star Alex Wood for minor leaguers and cap space, and sign Joe Kelly and A.J. Pollock to deals that have been seen as risky overpays by some.

Don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers should still win the NL West. The Rockies were relatively quiet and no other NL West team is near the Dodgers in terms of overall talent on the MLB roster today. But still, when I look at the Phillies’ offseason, I grow envious. I wanted these players in LA, and I did not think it was possible for the Dodgers to get them all of course.

Next. Another slow start seems likely for the Dodgers. dark

And yet the Phillies did just that. They signed all five of these studs. If the Dodgers want to win in November before the departure of Kershaw and the rest of the core, the front office and ownership will need to buckle down and begin to think with a win-now mentality.  Otherwise, all we’ll get is more November tears.