ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals waits for the pitch from the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on September 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.(Photo by Kelly Kline/GettyImages)

As the MLB season winds down and the front offices for teams already out of the race start planning for the future, there is no doubt all teams have mentioned the two biggest names in the upcoming off season’s free agent pool. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will, no doubt, command record setting, or near record setting contracts.  Last week, we took a look at which player deserves the most money.  We also looked at where Machado might l and.

Today, let’s look at possible landing spots for Bryce Harper.

There’s no doubt the Nationals would love to resign their young star, but it might not be as easy as it sounds.  He will likely demand a contract between $300 and $400 million over ten years or so. Here’s the problem with that: Max Scherzer will earn about $107 million through 2021 and Stephen Strasburg will earn $93 million through 2022.  That means if they pay Harper $30 million or more (probably more) a year, they will spend more than $100 the first three years of his contract on just three players. 

What the Nationals probably hope for is a hometown discount of sorts from Harper, and that the love fans showed him during the All-Star break when he won the Home Run Derby in dramatic fashion, will carry some value.  Harper also knows where he fits with the Nationals, which may help the team convince him to stay.  But if it’s just about the money…

If it comes down to Harper’s relationship with other players, then the Cubs certainly have a chance. 

Harper is a close friend with Cubs All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant.  Plus, the Cubs have the money and exposure that would not only allow the team to sign Harper, but to keep his star shining brightly in the Windy City.  The Cubs are also loaded with young talent and Harper’s personality would only compliment with teammates such as Javy Baez.  The problem with signing Harper, however, is the Cubs are committed to Jason Heyward and his hefty contract for a couple more years. 

If the Cubs hope to get Harper, they would need to move Heyward out of right field and either onto the trading block, which isn’t likely given his $28 million salary, or to another position in the outfield.  Heyward is having a better season, but it tells you everything you need to know about how he is not living up to his contract with a line of a .276 average, seven homers, and 52 RBIs.  Harper is an instant upgrade at the position at hitter friendly Wrigley Field.

Believe it or not, the Phillies might have something to say about where Harper goes in free agency. 

They have a young core of players and are committed to only $62 million in contracts next season.  They can certainly afford a player of Harper’s stature and with a huge television deal, can certainly promise him the exposure he may enjoy.  Not only that, but Harper would fit nicely into the Phillies outfield which already consists of left fielder Odubel Herrera, and center fielder Rhys Hoskins.  The team has been platooning the right field position, so Harper can slide right into his position and bring his 34 homers (so far) and 97 RBIs (and counting).

Of course, there are two teams that could sneak in and make a play for Harper and those are the Dodgers and Yankees.  Both have luxury-tax-level salaries, but as history has shown us, they never shy away from making a big signing.

Stay tuned.

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