“He has a chance to become a bigger New York legend than Derek Jeter,” the fan says to his daughter.
“Who is Derek Jeter?” she replies.
The scenario is either every Nationals fan’s worst nightmare — except for the four-time MVP part — or so far down the road that it’s not even worth thinking about. ESPN’s Buster Olney probably wouldn’t consider it all that outlandish.
Harper is under the Nationals’ control through the 2018 season. After that, Olney writes (Insider subscription required) that “Harper-to-the-Yankees is like baseball’s version of a Bush or Clinton running for president: The possibility seems inevitable.”
“Let’s make this very clear, this is all speculation at this point,” Olney said Thursday on SportsCenter. “He’s got three-and-a-half more years left with the Nationals. I think it’s inevitable that he winds up with the Yankees, in part because think about where the Yankees are with their payroll situation going forward. Alex Rodriguez’s contract will expire within two years. Mark Teixeira within two years. C.C. Sabathia within two years. Brian McCann at the end of 2018. On and on and on, they’re going to have so much money available, and we know this too: They need a post-Derek Jeter star to build their team around, and could there be anybody better for Yankee Stadium than Bryce Harper, that left-handed hitter?
“Think about how many home runs he would hit in Yankee Stadium. He would pick up the baton from Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson and other guys who could take advantage of the short dimensions there. I think the bigger shock would be that any other team would have a chance than for the Yankees to not actually sign him. Keep in mind, his agent is Scott Boras, who always takes his clients into free agency, and if he gets there, you know the Yankees would be all over him.”
Olney speculates that the Nationals will “do what they can to keep Harper,” whose salary could be “north of $40 million a year.”
“It would be shocking if Harper isn’t wearing a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in 2019,” Olney writes.