Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals came onto the professional baseball scene in 2011 as a nineteen-year old designated with that ambiguous term, “phenom.” Harper slashed .270/.340/.477 in his inaugural season and finished with a flourish, garnering the NL Rookie of The Year Award. The future was bright.
Harper has some baggage and some is attributed to maturity. Issues in the Minors and at the MLB level with words like “respect” tossed around. Is it panache or is it a staggering ego? That is all open to interpretation.
Following 2011 Harper has had several injuries that have affected his on the field performance and have left a few observers questioning just what his future holds. Superstar? Bust? Average at best? The test of time will tell. You get that banged up each year, the question marks are out in force.
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Harper is the classic five-tool player but the tools have never had a 100% healthy season. Maybe they never will?
Harper has had monumental failures at times and incredible displays of talent at other times, so when and if the consistency arrives, the platitudes that surfaced after 2011 will be fully realized. That is worth the risk.
The Red Sox need a lefthanded bat to balance their lineup. At least that is the line among some. Harper would certainly provide that and enough fodder for the media to make any Boston stay interesting.
Harper will not be a free agent until 2019 and he is represented by the baseball agent devil incarnate – Scott Boras. That means testing the FA waters down the road. That has to be in consideration in any deal.
So just what would it take to get Harper? Would the Nationals be tempted?
Boston has their own promising 22 year-old in Mookie Betts. Betts has a few contract years advantage on Harper and Betts also showed some distinct promise in his short stay in Boston slashing .291/.368/.444 with some pop with five home runs in 213 plate appearances. Betts has speed, can play multiple positions and displayed some serious bat maturity.
Betts would not cut it alone in any move so the player pot would have to be sweetened. That means pitching and that could be the most significant stumbling block. Would the Red Sox be able to make a move in the direction of Harper without tossing in Brian Johnson or Henry Owens? I sincerely doubt it. The entire negotiation process would be rather fascinating to see just what it would take to pry Harper loose.
Harper would be a fun addition to Boston and would certainly provide both talent and controversy which are two areas that play well in RSN.