This offseason there are clearly two free agents that stand above the rest... Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. I'm not going to say much about the former of the two, because if you've ever read anything I've written, or had a conversation with me, then you know how much I hate his antics as a player.
On top of that, the Blue Jays already have Bo Bichette coming up as a shortstop, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. already penciled in to be the opening day starter (both are young and both have been brought up through the Jays system). Even a move to third is tough because then you're lessening Vlad's value as a third baseman by making him a DH.
Harper, however, is a completely different story in my eyes. Take a look at the depth in both the current outfield and the outfield coming up for the Toronto Blue Jays. Currently on the Blue Jays 40 man roster they have Randall Grichuk (27 years old), Kevin Pillar (30), Billy McKinney (24), Teoscar Hernandez (26), Dwight Smith Jr. (26), and Jonathan Davis (26). Bryce Harper, who has already played seven seasons in the MLB, is the same age or younger than five of the six players. So basically, on a rebuilding team with young players, Bryce would be the second youngest outfielder in the rotation.
So that means his numbers are worse than everybody else's right? You wouldn't be more wrong with that statement. Among outfielders on the Blue Jays, the biggest career high in home runs comes from Randal Grichuk with 25... Bryce has had more than 25 homers three times in his career and has a career high of 42. The career high leader for RBIs is also Grichuk with 68... Bryce hasn't had less than 86 since 2014. The best career batting average comes from Kevin Pillar with a .261 avg... Bryce is a career .279 hitter.
I don't think I need all of those stats to point out the obvious, but it's clear that he would come in as the second youngest outfielder on the outfield roster, and be head over heels the best player on the team.
"but he'll block out somebody coming up" cried the Jays fan who for some reason is committed to watching a losing team again. I don't know if you've looked at the Blue Jays top 30 prospects list, but it only consists of six outfielders. Included in those six are Billy McKinney, Anthony Alford, and Jonathan Davis; We've seen all three of them, and while they've shown flashes of being good players... none of them are all that impressive.
Bryce meanwhile... just watch:
It's been a pipe dream of mine since he got drafted to see Bryce in a Jays Jersey, but I never really saw it as a reality. That was until Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins was on the radio with TSN 1050 earlier this week. On the show he said that “[Bryce] would fit well in between Bichette and Vladdy at some point, there’s no question. He’s an intriguing player,” Log that under the "no shit" category, but that wasn't the only comment that got me going as both a Jays fan and a Bryce Harper fan.
When asked if they were trying to pursue the all star outfielder Atkins said “It’s something that we’ve contemplated; we’ll continue to. There’s a lot of talent that would be able to help our organization moving forward and we’ll continue to consider all of our alternatives.”
Look, I understand it doesn't mean much and he's just doing his job as a GM, but at least it's something. 16 year old me is screaming inside me thinking of seeing him out in right field everyday.
Everyone mentions the fact that he wouldn't want to play in Toronto, and the team isn't one he can succeed with, but I beg to differ. If Vlad Jr. is everything he's expected to be when he comes up, then he instantly makes this team a whole lot better than they are supposed to be. On top of that, Vlad would then be paired up with one of the best 19 year olds of all time in Harper.
In terms of whether or not he likes the city, I don't think he's so against it as people think. If you do a little bit of sleuthing on his Instagram, you'll find this post from back in 2016:
The post was made on September 2nd 2016, the day after Florida Georgia Line's show at the then Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. The off day came on a travel day in which the Nats flew from Philadelphia to New York. If you didn't like Canada, would you waste one of your very few off days flying there to enjoy what it had to offer? I highly doubt it.
There was also this tweet in 2017:
Auston stated that he had never met Harper, and he had no idea that he was wearing his jersey. Kinda interesting to see him repping the Toronto name if he wasn't a fan of the city or the market.
Bryce is a superstar, there's no doubt about it. Toronto recently has been doing an incredible job of bringing in superstars across all of their respective teams. The aforementioned Matthews, John Tavares also of the Leafs, Kawhi Leonard in the NBA, Sebastian Giovinco in the MLS, even Ricky Ray in the CFL, all of them are massive names in their respective sports, and the city puts them on a pedastal. Is there any superstar in any league that wouldn't fall in love with that?
Is Bryce going to be a Blue Jay by this time in March? I highly doubt it. But hey, in a season that looks as hopeless as this one does, it's kinda fun to have something to dream about.