Because of their relative frugality last year, the Dodgers will be penalized as first-time offenders if their payroll for next season exceeds the luxury-tax threshold. And because they traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds, they can take on another outfielder.
So where’s Bryce Harper?
The Dodgers would be a better team with Harper in their lineup. They would be a more interesting team. They would have the star attraction this star-driven city demands.
So, again, where’s Bryce Harper?
With five weeks or so left until the start of spring training, the former National League most valuable player remains a free agent. The free-agent market’s other prize, Manny Machado, is also unsigned.
The reason is that the homogeneity of thought across front offices has created nearly an entire league of risk-averse teams that are reluctant to offer long-term contracts to even a couple of 26-year-old franchise cornerstones. The teams are counting on their fans to not notice the sport generates nearly $10 billion annually, almost three times as much as it did when Alex Rodriguez signed a then-record 10-year, $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000.
Whereas teams such as the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox have made public their interest in Harper, the Dodgers have remained secretive about their intentions. That has been their standard mode of operation in their four-plus years with Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations.