champaignchris wrote:With all their other free agents and Zimmerman, Strasburg and Scherzer combining to make about $95M, will the Nats be able to sign Harper for $40+M per year and put a WS caliber team around him? I’m sure he doesn’t want to be National League Mike Trout.
Yes. The reason is this - they have an excellent system despite all their young MLB talent.
Actually, if there's any team that could afford to somewhat let go of Bryce Harper, it might be the Nationals. Victor Robles looks like, barring a physical setback, a legitimate top talent who has 5 tools. Juan Soto might be the best young offensive talent in the entire minors ... including perhaps Ronald Acuna and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. If he's not, then he's in the conversation. Even if those two graduate, a system with Carter Kieboom (a possible top 50 prospect next year), Will Crowe, Erick Fedde is a decent start, along with whatever they add in this year's draft (and one of my favorite boom/bust sleepers in the minors - Daniel Johnson ... although I tend to think he might end up more as a 4th OF, not enough hit tool to be a regular, but offers enough offensive/defensive ability to find a role).
It'd have to be a staggered deal with deferrals, and there would definitely be opt outs, but they could do it. Daniel Murphy's contract is coming up, Ryan Zimmerman ends after 2019, Gonzalez/Wieters/Madson/Kelley are all finishing up. Any team signing Bryce will need to be creative, but yes, on paper, the Nationals can do it (and the Angels, with Ohtani, and an improving system, look like a team that could contend while Trout is still in his prime, a big surprise compared to recent past). They could trade Eaton to clear more short term salary space if needed, and Carter Kieboom might be ready for 2nd base by 2019 (more likely late 2019, but they might not need to spend big on the spot).
Heck, if I'm being fair ... I'm not so sure the Cubs future is necessarily better than the Nationals. I really love Soto, and a core of Soto/Robles/Turner/Rendon plus Scherzer/Strasburg in the short term, and an ownership that you know will spend ... is very, very tantalizing. Sure, KB/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber top that, but I'm not so sure it's by all that much. There's more offense with the Cubs (Although how much more depends on how big a believer one is in Soto/Robles, and I am). Nationals defensive core looks better, but they are in a tougher division for the future.