Los Angeles Dodgers: Estimating a Bryce Harper contract in LA

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be the frontrunners for Bryce Harper with one obvious roadblock: can the team stomach signing a massive contract?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged as the frontrunners in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes and potentially have Harper in their hands. If the Dodgers are willing to offer the kind of money that Harper wants, why wouldn’t he come to LA?

First and foremost, there is a winning culture. While you can call Harper a diva all you want, he does seem like someone that wants to win at the end of the day.

That culture in place, mixed with young established talent and still one of the best farm systems in baseball, leads to the kind of sustainable success that someone like Harper should be looking for.

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There is really only one team that can mirror that and that is the New York Yankees. However, the Yankees simply have no room left in the outfield to bring Harper in.

That leaves LA with the benefit of the massive market, the winning culture, the endless amount of promotional things outside of baseball and the chance to play somewhat close to home in Las Vegas.

While that is not a computer’s drive, it is a short hour flight from Vegas to LA, making it very easy for his family to come out and for Harper to go home on off-days.

The biggest question to answer after that is whether or not the Los Angeles Dodgers front office is going to be willing to pay a massive contract. While the Dodgers have had one of the largest payrolls in baseball the last several years, this front office has been trying to rid of that and is set for a pretty big monetary reset next offseason.

That monetary reset is a relief for the front office, who will toe the luxury tax threshold once more. However, for the fans, it proves as another reason why the team should sign Harper to the massive deal that he wants.

So, what exactly should a contract for Harper look like? He probably will break the record for the largest contract in American sports history and is in the exact same shoes that Alex Rodriguez was in 18 years ago.

It obviously won’t remain static. Any good agent is going to get that contract to gradually increase as time goes on. He will probably have some options as well, as a player of Harper’s stature has that kind of pull in discussions.

Spotrac values Harper at ten years, $310 million, obviously giving him an average annual salary of $31 million. However, I think it is going to be slightly bigger than that, although the ten-year window is a perfect amount of time for both sides.

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.

The first stage of the contract is the first four years, in which the Dodgers get total team control of Harper. Over that time, Harper would make a total of $126 million, starting at $30 million a year in 2019 and growing by $1 million each season.

Then, after four years, Harper would own a player option. At this point in his career, he will be entering his 30s and could be ready to turn the six years remaining on his deal into 10 years. If that is the case, he can opt out.

If he stays then he will be locked in for another three years before his next option. The next three seasons would amount to $111 million, starting at $36 million and growing $1 million every season.

Then, Harper will have an option going into his age 33 season. If he is still in his prime, this is a prime time for him to opt out, as Zack Greinke did to the Dodgers. Instead of the remaining three years, Harper could net himself a seven-year deal into his 40s.

And heck, like with Greinke, this could actually benefit both sides, depending on where the Dodgers are at.

If Harper does not opt out (which I think is unlikely for his age at this time) he would be guaranteed the final three years of his contract worth $123 million; starting at $40 million and increasing $1 million each season.

Of course, there would be certain milestone incentives as well as MVP incentives and perhaps even World Series incentives. Either way, I don’t think the Dodgers can snag Harper without paying at least $350 million.

Next. A.J. Ellis should be considered. dark

What do you think? Would you sign Harper to this three-part contract, knowing that it probably won’t hurt the Los Angeles Dodgers long term? Let us know in the comments below!