What the Dodgers' blockbuster trade with the Reds means for free agent Bryce Harper
Harper could be the free agent the Dodgers finally break the bank for
On Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and cash to the Cinnincati Reds for Homer Bailey, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs. The knee-jerk reaction to the Dodgers clearing salary is that there may be some room for L.A. to make a run at free agent Bryce Harper.
After, the Dodgers' luxury-tax payroll is going to be more than $180 million, including the money they're sending to Cincinnati. If the club plans to avoid paying the competitive balance tax again, acquiring Harper -- who is after a mega-deal worth at least $300 million -- isn't going to happen. But if the Dodgers are actually not concerned with staying under, acquiring Harper is a possibility.
If the Dodgers really want Harper, they're going to have to either further trim down their payroll or disregard their plans for avoiding the luxury tax.
The Dodgers, under the regime of president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, have steered clear of spending money on massive, lengthy contracts on any one player. Other than re-upping franchise player Clayton Kershaw last month, the Dodgers have been a team that avoids huge long-term deals.
But with the Dodgers' championship drought going on 30 years, this might be the perfect time to write that massive free agent check for Harper. According to ESPN.com's Alden Gonzalez, Harper "badly wants to be a Dodger." Los Angeles has been linked in the 26-year-old in the past, but there were reports that the Dodgers did not want to sign a long-term contract and instead sign Harper to a short-term deal with a high average salary and opt-outs. However, Friday's trade seems to make signing Harper a bit more likely.
While upgrading the outfield is not the Dodgers' biggest offseason priority (the team's still left with a plethora of outfielders after giving up Puig and Kemp), adding Harper as a full-time outfielder would be an upgrade, especially on offense. His league-leading 130 walks were 51 more than the top Dodger, and his career .900 OPS is forged over nearly 4,000 career plate appearances. The six-time All-Star could definitely help L.A.'s World Series quest, and for Harper, joining the Dodgers would mean joining a team with which he can achieve the postseason success that eluded him in his seven seasons with the Washington Nationals.
Ultimately, Friday's big trade has only boosted the rumors of Harper heading to Los Angeles, but the Dodgers are in a better spot to sign the superstar free agent than they were a week ago.
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