Perched like a partridge in a pear tree and surrounded by far more than four calling birds, agent Scott Boras held his annual winter meetings press conference in front of a Christmas pine Wednesday and suggested the Cardinals’ team, like the bat on its jersey, was still big enough for his big-ticket client, Bryce Harper.
“Maybe I’m a little bit biased because I was a member of the Cardinals but this is about winning and it’s about a good franchise and ownership and the reality of it is that franchise is worth billions of dollars and they’re a top-10 revenue team,” said Boras, before referencing the Cardinals’ acquisition of six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt. “There is not one bird on their chest. There are two birds.
“They sit on the big bank of St. Louis.”
The open bidding for the former MVP — a sweepstakes Boras has nicknamed “Harper’s bazaar”— continued this week in Harper’s hometown, and there remain few teams that are publicly chasing the outfielder. The Cardinals were not one of the teams that sought a private audience with Harper at a nearby hotel, sources confirmed. The Cardinals did meet with Boras in person and discussed several of his clients, including reliever Zach Britton and Harper. The Cardinals’ acquisition of Goldschmidt this past week changed their approach to free-agent bats and purchased them the chance to be patient and see if Harper’s market shifts.
Boras has been selling his client as a “generational talent.” At 26, Harper is one of the youngest players ever to hit the free-agent market, and he does so with a .900 career OPS, two seasons with an OPS greater than 1.000, and an MVP award at age 22. The age is a big selling point because it allows him to be positioned as impervious to the troubles teams have had with long, longer, and longest deals. Just this past week, the Toronto Blue Jays cut Troy Tulowitzki and swallowed more than $35 million that was left on his lengthy deal.
The Cardinals do not discuss specific free agents, but they have expressed a general reluctance to commit to a 10-year deal, at any age.