Coppola: HarperMania 2019

Does Bryce Harper agreeing to a $21.625 million deal with the Washington Nationals for 2018 signal his re signing with them as a free agent in 2019? Will he use all of this as a bargaining chip to bring up his price tag? Or will this make him want to stay in the nations capital?

And so, the drama begins in the middle of May 2017! The Nationals made a brilliant move in offering this to him. They avoided arbitration for next year and showed Harper just how serious they are in retaining him throughout his free agency years. All the talk of him becoming a Yankee are exciting for the New York fans, but one thing is different now with this storied franchise, the “Boss” is no longer running the team.

George Steinbrenner would never have let Harper get away. Granted the possibility of him leaving the Nationals for free agency is still there, but the odds of the Yankees getting into a bidding war with other teams over the most prized player available in 2019 is questionable.

The new thinking Yankee way of building a championship from within, could keep them from doing what the Boss would have done in a heart beat in this situation. That is putting the best player available in pinstripes at any cost!

For the Yankees, this could be the beginning of shifting their sights on the best available starting pitcher, like Houston’s Dallas Keuchel who will be a free agent after 2018 or how about going for the moon and going after the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw who could opt out of the last two years and $65 million left on that contract.

Both will cost plenty. Both of them are only 31 years old now. Then again, how many times have we seen a team pay an enormous amount of money on a 33 year old arm only to see it go dead after two years?

Position players over thirty years old, have a better track record when talking about a four or more year deal for mega bucks. To me like many others, the next best thing to landing Harper, is the Oriole’s Manny Machado who will be only 26- years old in two years. He would be the piece that will complete the puzzle in establishing a competitive team that will carry them into the next ten years.

And hold on to your hats my friends, there’s a hurricane brewing down in Miami with new ownership. New blood who will want to show their new fans that they are in it to win it. There will be other teams that will surprise us by uncharacteristically getting in the mix or uncharacteristically not being a part of what happens in the next few years.

For now though, we really need to put all of this on the back burner and enjoy the rest of the remaining 122 or so games. Some of these names we see becoming free agent prizes can change in a hurry. Note the situation with Matt Harvey. He was at the top of the list a little as a few months ago and has seen his stock go down like so many others who like “Ol Blue Eyes” once sang were “Riding high in April and shot down in May.”

The Nationals have just fired the first volley in what should become an exciting few years of twists, turns and never before seen spending in professional sports. Every time we think we have seen the spending reach a high water mark, the owners raise the levee.

The teams in major league baseball have to all be talking about what just happened down in Washington D.C.. And I am not talking about our dysfunctional government.

William Coppola has baseball knowledge of 40 years as a player, coach. umpire and recently an advanced scout.


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