Would the connection between Bryce Harper and Derek Jeter lead to the Miami Marlins doing the unthinkable and signing the slugger before Spring Training?
It would be the most shocking news of the 2019 MLB season. It’s so far-fetched, it shouldn’t even be part of a general conversation. But in the interest of doing due diligence in an examination of the free agent market, would the Miami Marlins do the unthinkable and sign slugger Bryce Harper to a mega-deal?
I know most of you who just read that paragraph spit out whatever you were drinking. It’s preposterous to think the cash-strapped, frugal Marlins, the one who gave away their All-Star talent last season for minor league prospects, would do such a thing.
Then you read what Gabe Lacques of USA Today wrote, and think it isn’t as off base as it seems.
OK, it is off base, but let’s have a little fun here, shall we?
The Marlins are in need of name recognition. The most polarizing figure within the organization is Derek Jeter, the minority owner who runs the day-to-day show. They also need a Paul Bunyan-type bat in the middle of the lineup. Miami’s Marlins Park isn’t known as a home run haven, but fans have seen power hitters find ways to use it to their advantage.
Signing Harper to a deal – not at $300-million – would certainly bring fans to the park and put people in the seats of a cavernous structure that looked barren during games last season.
"“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,” Lacques wrote."
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Let me say as well if the Marlins were to do this, then Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich have a great case against the franchise, as they were led to believe the organization was trying to rebuild with youngsters who could barely keep up with a Major League fastball.
Harper idolized Jeter growing up, and thought of one day playing in Yankee Stadium. A trade for Stanton halted that, so in effect, Jeter is the reason the former Washington icon isn’t wearing pinstripes right now.
It’s one of those stories that come out and make you think, “What if?”
"“And so Derek Jeter and Bryce Harper’s actual baseball relationship has been that of passing ships – or, in Harper’s case, a fleeting moment or two on the basepaths when Jeter was winding down his 20-year career as the Yankee shortstop,” Lacques added."
The Marlins are tied financially to only a few players, with $46 million being divided between Starlin Castro, Wei-Yin Chen and Martin Prado. Catcher J.T. Realmuto, the team’s headliner behind the dish, is about to suit up for another team. This would have been so much easier if there was a Harper for Realmuto trade this offseason.
Somethings weren’t meant to be.
The Marlins at some point will have to open the vault and pay players to play in South Florida. The young assembly of neophytes are impressive, but this is still a two or three-year plan in the making. Harper gives Miami a fighter’s chance once he stands at the dish and takes a swing.
"“It is Stanton’s $325 million contract that Harper is a decent bet to surpass this winter,” Lacques wrote. “It’s also the contract Jeter had to get rid of as a new Marlins regime remakes the franchise while resolving debt issues that came with the purchase of the team.”"
For now, the Marlins will probably pass on such a move. But it would be a grand one at that. Harper in a new Marlins uni would be a sight to see. Unfortunately, it is only a dream. Just like the one of the youngster emulating his hero as a boy and wearing the uniform the current Marlins owner did for the Yankees faithful for almost two decades.