Bryce Harper, a National League MVP at 23, is a free agent at 26, peddling his services in an industry that’s grown to nearly $11 billion in annual revenues. His combination of skills, age and marketing cachet make him an excellent fit for any major league franchise.
Even the Boston Red Sox.
Harper, who has 184 career home runs and a lifetime .900 OPS, rejected a 10-year, $300 million contract offer from the Nationals in September, and is a good bet to set a new standard for the most lucrative contract in North American sports history.
It’s taken weeks – and will possibly require several more – for that process to play out. In the meantime, USA TODAY Sports will examine why every team could use Harper’s services – some more than others, certainly some better-equipped to procure them.
A case for Harper and the Red Sox joining forces:
On the field
As Harper compiled All-Star numbers at a young age and aligned himself for an eventually grand payday, it seemed clear that his ultimate suitors would come from a fairly small group.
Big-revenue beasts, teams with plenty of money to burn or ones set up to win for years would comprise the primary group.
So with those parameters in mind, it’s somewhat remarkable that Harper and the Red Sox have never been meaningfully connected.
The Red Sox check off every one of those boxes, almost every year. They’re not the Yankees, Harper’s team of choice as a youth and one renowned for the biggest free-agent splashes. And they’re perched about as far away from Harper’s Las Vegas roots as possible.
Now, they are World Series champions, with a deep and punishing and beloved core, and it probably behooves them to keep the band together as long as possible.