Monday, January 23, 2017


Let me just start out by saying that I do believe that Bryce Harper would look great in Pinstripes alongside Clint Frazier (who loves to reach out to him on Twitter), Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Blake Rutherford and others. Harper is a talent that doesn’t come along very often.

But amongst the Yankees faithful, many believe he is a shoo-in to be a Yankee in 2019. Whatever the cost, whatever it takes. It has been reported that he will be looking for a 10 year, $400 million record contract. His agent, the infamous Scott Boras will assure he gets paid. And he should.

But just like anything else in life, any and everything can become too expensive. What is the breaking point? $40 million a year? What if another team offers $42 million? Do the Yankees bump it to $45 million? That gets slippery when it’s a business. This point goes to any player the Yankees are looking to invest ‘bigly’ in.

(Sept. 30, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)    
The Yankees will be in position to shell out a bunch of money following the 2018 season and with Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Josh Donaldson and others potentially hitting the free agent market. But there will be factors to consider before possibly committing nearly a billion dollars.

(Oct. 6, 2016 - Source: Getty Images North America)
One factor that will definitely come into play is Harper’s success over the next two seasons. It was reported that Harper was battling a shoulder injury this past year which was likely a factor in his decreased production and 2016 could have simply been a down year. But his .243/.373/.441 slash line with 24 home runs and 86 RBI don’t exactly scream record breaking contract.

His OBP was solid and his strikeout to walk ratio ,121 strikeouts to 108 walks, were within percentage points of his 2015 monster numbers in which he slashed .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs and 99 RBI while adding 131 strikeouts to 124 walks. Those numbers do scream record breaking contract.

(Oct. 6, 2016 - Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)
In order for me to feel happy about a monster long term contract, I would really like to see Harper have back-to-back MVP type seasons to prove that 2016 was just a kink in the armor, possibly exacerbated by injury.

(Sept. 17, 2016 - Source: Rich Gagnon/Getty Images North America)    
If you close your eyes and think back, the Yankees dished out some big money, long term deals recently to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. Sure they won the 2009 World Series but at the expense of a huge down turn just a couple years later. While it wasn’t all a waste or terrible, it gives me a little baseball PTSD.

The upside of all this is that Harper, and Machado for that matter, will still be in their prime whereas a couple of the above mentioned guys were reaching the end of theirs. But a decade is a lot of time to commit to $40 million a year.

Photo: Getty Images
I don’t want you to think that I don’t want Harper to be patrolling the outfield 1 E 161st St in the Bronx. I just want the record breaking contract the Yankees may or may not dish out to have as few concerns as possible. I want the Yankees to win consistently for a long time with enough financial flexibility to allow it to last.

There are still two years of baseball and two years of growth both inside and outside of the Yankees organization before these conversations can even truly be had. Cashman was recently asked at a hot stove Q&A at Times Square Hard Rock Café about Harper, Macahdo and Harvey and whether they will be Yankees. While laughing, Cashman asked if they were trying to get him suspended as it is against the rules to discuss players currently under contract with another team.

Photo: Getty Images
In an ideal world the baby bombers graduate and become the next core built from within and Brian Cashman can make an intelligent, and potentially huge, investment in arguably the greatest free agent class of all time. As long as it is economical.

At some point, anything can become too expensive.

--Dan Lucia

BYB 'Series' Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia

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