With Opening Day a mere 44 days away, pitchers and catchers from all 30 MLB teams made their way to Florida and Arizona this week for their mandatory Spring Training reporting dates. Over the course of the next week, position players will also embark on the journey to their Spring Training homes, with First Full Squad Workouts scheduled for early next week (at the latest). Yet, as many in baseball ready themselves for the transition into the pre-season grind and begin to strategize for the upcoming season, much of the competitive landscape remains undetermined. Despite a relatively active market this Winter, many of the game’s marquee free agents have yet to find a home.
Most notable amongst the yet to be signed free agents, Bryce Harper, headlining act of the “Harper Bazaar” (as coined by Agent Scott Boras), entered this offseason by rejecting the 2nd largest FA contract offer in MLB history. In spite of the historic 10 Year $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals, Harper entered November 2018 with the belief that his market value was closer to $400 million. Bottom line, the market did not materialize the way expected by Harper and Boras. With his rumored potential suitors to be the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, and Washington Nationals, Harper, the 26-year-old six time All-Star and 2015 NL MVP will have a decision to make, does he want to win now, or does he want a historic payday? It does not appear as though he’s going to get both.
While free agency rumors will continue to mill over the next couple weeks, one thing is clear. Teams still in the free agency mix will have to begin Spring Training focusing on the teams they have now, knowing full well that a potential landscape shifting acquisition in the form of Bryce Harper remains on the horizon.