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 Kansas City Royals.
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 Royals joining forces:
On the field
That November day in 2015, when half a million or so folks turned out for the Royals' victory parade, seems like a distant memory. Yet what those Royals accomplished in 2014-15 deserves another round of applause, and a fresh look through today’s lens.
Winning consecutive American League pennants and a World Series title is a gargantuan accomplishment for any team; it’s downright astounding for one in baseball’s third-smallest market.
It also proved that virtually anything is possible for any franchise.
After three decades of baseball malpractice, the Royals reignited a fan base thirsting for a winner – and paid handsomely to do so. For four consecutive seasons, they fashioned payrolls of at least $112 million, and ranked in the top 10 in spending in 2016 and 2017.