Surprisingly, Harper is still on Dodger radar

On the surface, a match of the Dodgers and Harper does not seem like something you’d expect from a team who has more outfielders than they have spots on the roster. You could make a case the Puig/Bellinger/Taylor/Joc/Kemp/Verdugo/Toles/Hernandez are all at least average, running from average (Toles, Kemp, Hernandez), to above average (Joc, Puig, Taylor, Verdugo), to star quality (Bellinger).

Yet, the rumors persist that Harper wants to sign with the Dodgers and that the Dodgers would love Harper if they can get him to sign the kind of deal they would want.

I estimate that a Harper contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers would be in the ballpark of ten years, $360 million, split up into three different stages of the contract.

Jason Reed gave the above estimate as something he thinks the Dodgers and Harper can agree too.  The key to that kind of contract are the option years.  It remains to be seen if Dodger management would do that kind of deal.

That still doesn’t seem likely to me, but what if the Dodgers do pull that off? Puig would for sure need to be traded. I’d say even Verdugo would need to go. If they sign Harper, I’d expect that Verdugo is the centerpiece headed to the Marlins for Realmuto. With Verdugo the centerpiece, I think a trade of Verdugo / Dennis Santana / Will Smith should be good enough to net them Realmuto.

Now they have to figure what to do with Puig. I love Puig, but if you have signed Bryce Harper to be your right fielder, Puig is the first odd man out.

Before we move Puig let’s look at the lineup with Harper and Realmuto in it.

Against RHP POS Against LHP POS
J.T. Realmuto Catcher Chris Taylor Left Field
Corey Seager Shortstop Corey Seager SS
Bryce Harper Right Field Justin Turner 3rd Base
Justin Turner 3rd Base Byrce Harper Right Field
Cody Bellinger 1st Base David Freese 1st Base
Max Muncy 2nd Base Kiké Hernandez 2nd Base
Joc Pederson Center Field J.T. Realmuto Catcher
Andrew Toles Left Field Cody Bellinger Center Field
Walker Buehler Pitcher Walker Buehler Pitcher
Kiké Hernandez Joc Pederson
Chris Taylor Max Muncy
David Freese Andrew Toles
Austin Barnes Austin Barnes

Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the possible lineup iterations. Signing Harper makes us lefty-heavy with Joc, Seager, Harper, Muncy, and Bellinger as the big left-hand hitting group. Plus, J.T. Realmuto crushes RHP (.875 OPS) which is why he’s leading off against RHP, something he did alot of in Miami.  That group should mash right-hand pitching.

The right-hand hitting group is no piece of cake either with Turner,  Taylor, Freese, Harper, and Kiké all likely to tear into left-hand pitching.

The hitting part I like, but in the scenarios above, Max Muncy is basically a 2nd baseman. Can we live with that? Do we want Cody bouncing from CF to 1st base depending on who is pitching? Chris Taylor only has a part-time role and he seems better than that. Andrew Toles is the left fielder against RHP, but if he fails, Chris Taylor can simply take that job full time.

I’m starting to talk myself into this roster. With Puig/Verdugo/Kemp all gone, we are one roster spot shy.  I added Toles back to the 25 man roster from the forty man roster, but we need one more player. I would look to add a left-hand pinch hitter but I don’t have a name for you right now.

This seems like a delicious roster, is it something you’d be comfortable with? Bryce Harper is an enigmatic player, someone who is at times the best player in the National League, and others no better than Yasiel Puig. The salary would be huge, would it be worth it? We have to remember that after this year Puig is a free agent so we’d only be moving him a year early.

The Dodgers could move Joc Pederson instead of Verdugo and they just might try to do that. Let’s say they do move Joc / Puig / Kemp and sign Harper. Let’s say they create a complicated three-way deal involving several of those three that brings Realmuto to the Dodgers. Let’s also say we believe Dave Roberts when he says that Bellinger/Muncy are full-time players.

How does that lineup look?

Against RHP POS Against LHP POS
J.T. Realmuto Catcher Chris Taylor Left Field
Corey Seager Shortstop Corey Seager SS
Bryce Harper Right Field Justin Turner 3rd Base
Justin Turner 3rd Base Byrce Harper Right Field
Cody Bellinger Center Field Kiké Hernandez 2nd Base
Max Muncy 1st Base J.T. Realmuto Catcher
Alex Verdugo Left Field Max Muncy 1st Base
Chris Taylor 2nd Base Cody Bellinger Center Field
Walker Buehler Pitcher Walker Buehler Pitcher
Kiké Hernandez Alex Verdugo
Andrew Toles David Freese
David Freeze Andrew Toles
Austin Barnes Austin Barnes

I think I like this iteration better.  The defense is much better, and while the offense against LHP will suffer from Cody and Max getting full-time at-bats, we do have Freese sitting on the bench waiting to crush LHP if Cody or Max don’t produce enough.

Anyway, at least I can see how Harper fits if he shocks me and signs with the Dodgers.

I personally would give Puig 600 Plate Appearances in 2019 and sign a backup for Austin Barnes instead of signing Bryce Harper for a bazillion dollars but I can understand those who want Harper in Los Angeles.

This could play out many ways, it is not like the Dodgers would have to trade for Realmuto if they sign Harper. They may think they have enough offense they can carry Barnes. Remember Barnes is still a great framer, one year removed from a break out offensive season. If he can just get back to an average hitter, with his defensive and framing skills he’d be fine as a full-time catcher.

I’m just not sure what they can move Puig for. Maybe an elite second baseman? Heck, just one year ago Brian Dozier was an elite second baseman and now he can’t get anyone to give him a contract. I’d love a Scooter Gennett but why would the Reds move him and his great contract?

The Dodgers could go big or simply do nothing. Right now I’m okay with either scenario.

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