Washington Nationals are not currently the favorites to sign Bryce Harper

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Bryce Harper #34 during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Washington Nationals have a big offseason, with the biggest decision surrounding Bryce Harper. Currently, they aren’t the favorites for his signature.

The Washington Nationals have arguably the biggest dilemma in franchise history this offseason. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Bryce Harper will be a free agent after this year, and the team will aim to re-sign him.

There have been hints dropped recently about his desire to stay, and Mike Rizzo’s intentions of extending him. However, when you look at the odds, the Nationals may well have an uphill struggle.

According to OddsShark, the Nats are fifth favorites to secure the superstar’s services in the offseason. The top eight teams in the betting market are listed below, with not too many surprises among them.

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  • Chicago Cubs +150
  • Los Angeles Dodgers +350
  • New York Yankees +450
  • Philadelphia Phillies +650
  • Washington Nationals +700
  • Boston Red Sox +900
  • Los Angeles Angels +1200
  • San Francisco Giants +1500

The Cubs have been linked with Harper for a long time, and top the market right now. Long-time friend Kris Bryant and a team that’s clearly a World Series contender will be a huge appeal, as well as being a historic franchise.

However, they were close to the luxury tax threshold this year and have to factor in Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber entering their first year of arbitration. This combined with increases of arbitration to Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, and Addison Russell, and a pretty crowded outfield situation, making the Cubs a puzzling favorite.

Related Story. Previewing a Harper extension. light

The Yankees are in a similar situation after the acquired Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason, crowding the outfield and payroll. But as is common knowledge, they wouldn’t struggle to afford going over the luxury tax, especially after they got under threshold this year, to reset the penalty, and like the Cubs are built to contend now.

Financially, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Giants make a lot of sense, as they all have considerable tax room for 2019 and beyond. Harper may well relish a move to the west coast to be closer to home which could favor the latter two.

But we circle back to the Nationals who seem to be significantly undervalued in this negotiation. The team had two opportunities to trade Harper this season, at the trade deadline, and via revocable waivers in August. They chose to do neither while flipping the likes of Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez.

They got very minimal returns for the players who are unlikely to come back in 2019. So if the decision makers either had no interest in an extension or thought one seemed incredibly unlikely, they could’ve easily moved Harper for a below-market value. But they didn’t.

It’s clear there’s interest from the Nats side, and there’s room under the luxury tax to wiggle given the number of pending free agents dealt away. So if Harper wants to come back, you’d imagine a union could well happen, making fifth favorites a reasonable bet at that price.

Next. Finding a Catcher for 2019. dark

We’re now quickly heading towards decision time for Bryce Harper, and finding out whether he will be a Washington Nationals player beyond this season.