Some Padres Fans are Dreaming of Bryce Harper

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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper is free to sign with any major league team he chooses this winter. Some San Diego Padres fans are really dreaming of a Harper signing, but is that even possible for a franchise that has failed to go the extra mile when it comes to competing?

It is natural. We are only human. It is completely normal for human beings to desire more in life. This unquenchable thirst to get better is what everything is all about. You cannot settle and you must always search for perfection.

When it comes to the San Diego Padres, fans of the team have felt neglected for a long time. It has been 10 years since the Padres have made a playoff appearance, and the club of that era was less than appealing to watch on a daily basis. They were a decent team, but when you lack star power on a squad, you fail to really capitalize on the magic of sports.

Not that you’d expect the Padres to break the bank for a free agent, but an effort would be nice.

Year after year, free agent class after free agent class, the team has stood pat and failed to bring in a star. An occasional James Shields-like signing here and there, but nothing substantial, and certainly not a player in their prime, ready to bring a long-awaited championship to San Diego. Despite the efforts in recent years, there has been an obvious failure to spend money consistently and the fan base is getting really tired of it. The team can do better.

The Padres are a successful business. The value of the team climbs each and every year. Each season, the club tremendously grows in value. The Padres make money. Don’t let them fool you. The club might have expenditures, but when it is all said and done, they turn a very hefty profit. So why is this money not being put back into the team? Why has the team been bad for so long?

A lot of the failures of the franchise have to do with the constant change in ownership and philosophy. The Padres have been through three separate ownership regimes recently, and each has done things in a completely different way. The ownership’s only common theme was a failure to spend money, as the Padres have been 17th or lower in payroll since 1999. That is one year after the team made the World Series, in which they were 9th in overall payroll.

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Flash forward to the 2018-19 offseason and the Padres seem on the verge of actually turning the corner to relevancy. They have a fairly open payroll in the next few seasons and tons of young players knocking on the door. For once, the future really does seem bright for the San Diego Padres. There seems to be a plan. And it is starting to work.

This current free agent class has two megastars within it. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, at the ages of 26, are the types of players you build a franchise around. Both have great value with the bat and each will cash in big this winter. There have been whispers that the Padres should explore signing one of them.

Machado seems to have stunted his value a bit with his antics this fall. In the World Series, he acted like a clown on multiple occasions and branded himself a dirty player. Under the microscope of the national attention, he struggled to “play the game correctly” and made it worse with his comments. He will still sign a huge contract this winter, but some have to wonder how much more money he could have gotten if he behaved himself in October while wearing a Dodgers uniform.

Harper comes with a lot of baggage himself. He is not known as a “hustler” and has been voted the most overrated player numerous times by his peers in the league. He is a great player though – a well-recognized one, and certainly a player who can be labeled the face of the franchise. He provides instant credibility to a team and is a marketing dream. He will probably be named an all-star the next ten seasons. That, in itself, speaks volumes to his popularity.

The opportunity to sign a player like Harper is rare. Extremely rare. But do Padres fans honestly believe the San Diego Padres are going to hand out the richest free agent contract in the history of professional sports? That is what it will take to secure Harper, who reportedly already turned down a 10-year offer from the Nationals at $300 million. It will take upwards of $350-400 million to secure Harper, and there is no way the Padres should be that team. They can’t be.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I fully understand that the team can afford to pay a player $30-35 million per season for the next ten years. They certainly have the flexibility with their future payroll commitments to do so. But should a team that is trying to find their stride commit so much money to one player? Instead of putting all one’s proverbial eggs in a single basket, why not spread things around? Use all that financial freedom to clean up in the international market come July every couple of years. The Padres will be penalty free this July 2 and could very well spend another $90 million on dozens of international players who could eventually be stars in the league. **(Under new rules the Padres are not able to spend like they did in 2016. Apologies for the incorrect information.) The Padres could also spend money on next year’s free agent class which includes Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon. Both would be less than Machado or Harper and could outproduce each in terms of value. I am not advocating that the team not spend money. I am pleading with them to keep spending it wisely. And no, the Hosmer signing was not wise.

The Padres must be smart with their money. Stay the course with these young players. As they emerge and establish themselves in the league, lock them up long term. Buy out their arbitration years and invest money into their free agent years. Do things the smart way and when the time is right, make that splash on the free agent market when the team is a piece or two from the promised land.

Padres fans have every right to dream of Bryce Harper. They want nice things too. But be careful to covet too much when the time is not right for this franchise. That can lead to an endless circle of inferiority. Now the time just isn’t right for the Padres to hand out boatloads of money. Dream of Bryce Harper, Padres fans. But don’t forget it is just that – a dream.

7 thoughts on “Some Padres Fans are Dreaming of Bryce Harper

  1. If there is a signing that would be worse than signing Hosmer, it would be signing Harper, followed by Machado (Manny would not be so redundant).

  2. Like this article. Assuming Harper “could” be signed it is something to consider. He is definitely an overrated player. Had the one monster year (2015) but nothing else approaching it. Hard to know what we’d getting. The one thing GMs look for is predictability, will this guy produce at levels we can anticipate, or do we have to guess. A predictable player is Freddy Galvis, his numbers from 2018 look very much like all his other years. An unpredictable player is Eric Hosmer, where his 2018 was night and day different from his 2017.
    If we signed Harper for $35mm AAV, we’d have almost $80 mm committed to just 3 players in 2020. That’s probably more than 50% of payroll on just 3 guys. You cannot really describe a stars and scrubs roster as a legitimate playoff contender.
    So, Harper isn’t good enough to merit the price he’ll command (as James suggests) and until and unless the team offloads Myers there won’t be the payroll flexibility to afford a big contract of this magnitude.

  3. This may seem wild. But I think The Padres shod sign Machado AND Harper. Eff it! What, are we gonna risk sucking for the next 10 years if they don’t work out?? Haha been there, done that!
    How often do two studs at 26 years young become free agents at the same time…right when OUR TEAM has a ton of money to spend!

    Harper has the highest ceiling probably of any position player in the league. Machado has the highest floor of any team. Both are MVP candidates.
    I’d rather have Arenado over Machado, but Arenado doesn’t have the baggage Machado does, so I think he’ll be scooped up quick. Machado market is at an all time low, which is a blessing. Machado, one if the best 3B, would compliment the raw, maybe less rangey Tatis. Harper has an OBP of .450! Two types of players WE NEED.

    Our payroll is expected to be $85 mil. We should be at $150 mil going forward. The Padres have invested a lot of money I to the international FA class, but that’s still peanuts compared MLB payrolls. We are a top 10 sized metropolis, with no other team in town. We should be able to pack the park. There will be a return on investment.

    Machado 10/300
    Harper 10/300

    Front load the contracts, while most of our team is on rookie salaries, and so we can trade them later in their careers if we want. Bryce Harper making $20 mil the last 3-4 years(32 years old) would be an easy contract to move in the year 2026.

    I think we should trade most of our starters from last year. (Cept Hosmer of course, and either Reyes or Renfroe)

    Also, when are CY Young type pitchers in their prime, made available?

    Trade for Thor(Hope he stays healthy and extend him in 2020)

    Hedges, Yates, Lucchessi, Margot

    Trade for Bauer(Only wants 1 year deals, no long term commitment)

    Reyes, Stammen, Quantrill, Naylor

    Trade for Leclerc

    Perdomo, Diaz, Potts

    Trade for Haniger and Leake
    Myers, A. Allen, Gettys, Lauer
    Flip Leake at deadline

    We keep all of our gems

    2020 rotation

    G Richards
    Lucchessi/Allen/ Nix


    Tatis SS
    Haniger LF
    Machado 3B
    Harper RF
    Hosmer 1B
    Mejia C
    Urias 2B
    Cordero CF

    Pirela lol

    Still keep top prospects

    L Allen

    I know you need to build teams from within and NOT thru FA’s, but these FA’s I feel like are locks to be wise investments.
    I know there arbitration and extensions we need money for…but it’s just MONEY! takes money to make money. Extend Tatis ASAP if he’s the real deal.

    Go Pads!

    1. Your excitement is evident, but Harper’s career OBP is .388, not .450. Next, he already turned down 10/$300mm from the Nats, he’s not signing here for that. Both Harper and Machado will prioritize money, but also the chance to win. SD can only offer a promise of the latter, not a history of it, like the NYY, Dodgers or St. Louis. No way they sign here.
      As to your question of when are young, CY types made available, they are not. No team trades this type of player.

  4. Syndergaard is the only huge named guy this off season I’m hoping for. Let’s get that done by acquiring Realmuto and flipping him or straight up with NY. Only if it doesn’t cost us Tatis, Urias, Gore or Paddock. 2019 will show us a lot about our prospects and whom we can count on. I think 3B is our glaring hole. If next off season we spent big on a super star like Arenado, it would be $ well spent at a time we are ready to compete! That would be a great team with solid depth!

  5. I agree with both of you James and Kevin. The Padres have money to spend, but they don’t NEED to spend it on players that don’t fit, like last year with Hosmer. I am not giving up on that signing by any means, he will show that his veteran leadership is a positive, but adding another outfielder to the mix will back Preller and Co. into a corner when trying to deal who they see as expendable.

    Break the bank on Arenado next off season or give Rendon a nice deal to play 3rd while bringing in that “ace type pitcher” to anchor the staff. Gerrit Cole would be a perfect fit to be the stopper with all of the young pitchers coming up. Strasburg has his opt out next year too, so he could be a fall back option.

  6. I’d be more excited to see us wait and sign Nolan Arenado next offseason. 3rd base is more of a position of need, and i feel like he is more consistent on both side of the field. Imagine that starting infield, Arenado at 3rd, Tatis Jr. At SS, Urias at 2nd, and Hosmer at 1st. Develop Mejia defensively at catcher, and that could be one of if not the best infields in the whole league.

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