Dodgers passing on Bryce Harper might've been Andrew Friedman's biggest mistake

The Dodgers tried to get too cute with Bryce Harper and it cost them.
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Los Angeles Dodgers fans on social media are going in on Mookie Betts, specifically, ever since the Arizona Diamondbacks completed the NLDS sweep on Wednesday night. It's an ugly scene, and we'd rather not give it any more attention than it deserves.

What we can do, however, is shift the conversation to a baseball-centric one. Perhaps a personnel topic. Like ... why have the Dodgers let clutch postseason players like Corey Seager and Bryce Harper slip through the cracks?

We've already given you a deep look into why letting Seager go (if the Dodgers truly had any control over it) was a massive oversight. Next up: Harper.

The Dodgers were among the few teams in the driver's seat when Harper became a free agent after the 2018 season. Many believe the New York Yankees were tops, but they didn't even contact Harper despite the superstar previously making it clear he'd love to play for them. Brian Cashman takes pride in the fact the Yankees didn't bother with one of the most talented players of a generation.

Andrew Friedman and Co. weren't that brash, but they did try to get cute, reportedly offering Harper a four-year, $180 million contract. At the time, the Dodgers had no long-term commitments, but did have to keep in mind re-signing Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Joc Pederson when the time came. They also needed to take care of Clayton Kershaw.

Only problem? They handled Kershaw and nobody else. And now they're watching this happen after being booted from the playoffs early once more.

Dodgers passing on Bryce Harper might've been Andrew Friedman's biggest mistake

Another big market team with unlimited financial resources limiting their own financial resources for reasons unknown. At the time, Harper was entering his age-26 season, and there was some validity to an argument that a shorter-term deal could benefit both parties.

For one, the Dodgers could limit the risk and commitment to a somewhat oft-injured player whose defense wasn't spectacular. In his contract year, Harper didn't exactly put up $300 million player numbers, either. He hit .249 with an .889 OPS and 133 OPS+. Harper also had limited playoff experience with the Nationals, having played in just 19 game since 2012 and never winning a series. Not his fault, but the Dodgers needed a sure thing if they were going to spend that kind of money, as most teams do.

But then what was the logic in going after Betts? Trading assets for him and handing over $365 million? Betts and Harper are both generational players with very similar resumes, even at that time. Want to talk about postseason failure, too? Betts, before arriving in LA, had one homer and four RBI in 21 playoff games -- considerably worse than Harper's numbers. Betts flipped the script in 2020, as well as during the 2021 WC and NLDS rounds, but the last two years he's flopped back to his pre-2020 days.

Harper? Oh, he's just continuing to build upon a legendary October resume that now features a .282 average, 1.010 OPS, 14 homers and 28 RBI in 41 games. Betts, for comparison, is hitting .251 with a .710 OPS, four homers and 18 RBI in 58 games.

And we're not even arguing one over the other. The Dodgers could've had both, especially with how Betts has been deployed this season. Harper also expressed willingness to shift around the diamond, which he's done in Philly for a much lesser talent in Nick Castellanos. Harper is making $26 million per year, a salary the Dodgers easily could've squeeze into the equation, with or without keeping the aforementioned homegrown talent had they stayed.

For some reason, Harper's abilities were somewhat devalued when he hit the open market, and the richest teams tried to take advantage in an aggressive manner. But he's always been who he is, and it's unclear why some teams, like the Dodgers and Yankees, didn't treat him that way.

It's all revisionist history, of course, but the $330 million that was thought to be a "prohibitive" investment by the Phillies is turning out to be a legendary signing after all Harper's done for them. The Dodgers do have the 2020 World Series, but Harper's the exact personality Dodgers fans have been yearning for when this team goes out of the playoffs early with a thump.

On top of cutting out key members of their locker room and culture, the Dodgers trying to get cute with a short-term deal for one of the best players of a generation might be an unfortunate talking point in Dodgers history as time marches on.