With only a handful of games left in the Fall Classic, the speculation about big free agents continues to grow especially with the White Sox.
Bryce Harper is on the free-agent market, too. And, the White Sox have a spot or two that he could fill.
Baseball pundits have predicted that Harper and Machado could each get record sums of money in their free agent contracts. But, with Harper’s less-than-stellar 2018 season, Machado could be the player who gets the bigger contract. Both Machado and Harper can be polarizing players, but they both know the game and have the potential to be future Hall-of-Famers.
Their abilities between the lines and their abilities to draw crowds should make both highly desirable to teams in rebuilds and teams that are contending. The White Sox could use both, but Harper actually makes more sense to the team’s immediate needs.
In 2018 the corner outfielders consisted of Avisail Garcia, Nicky Delmonico, and Daniel Palka. Occasionally, Trayce Thompson, Ryan LaMarre, and Leury Garcia filled in when needed. Palka should become a designated hitter as his offense is much better than this defense. And, Avisail Garcia missed nearly 70 games due to injuries. In 2018, Harper played in 159 games.
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Only three of the Sox outfielders had better batting averages than Harper, Leury Garcia being one of them. But, if you take Palka out of the defensive mix, the “regular” outfielders – Avisail Garcia (19), Engel (6), and Delmonico (8) hit one less home run all season than the 34 that Harper hit by himself.
Harper won’t be cheap to any team. He made $21 million in 2018, but his ability and draw makes him worth it. His left-handed bat is an asset, as well as his speed in the outfield. While the Sox have a few switch-hitters and left-handed batters, adding one like Harper can’t hurt.
Of course, Eloy Jimenez is a factor for any outfield position in 2018, but he will most likely take over in left field. With Avisail Garcia’s future with the team in question, right field could be open for a free agent like Harper, who just had his 26th birthday earlier in October. His youth is another asset that would make him a good fit with the Sox. And, his experience would make him a strong leader – especially for a young rookie like Jimenez, who could become a media darling, like Harper.
Will Harper even be pursued by the White Sox? His name hasn’t appeared in any pieces about the off-season and potential acquisitions. But, in the MLB, anything is possible. With Harper’s ability at the plate, he would be a fantastic player for an AL team as he could easily fill in as a DH. While there’s been more speculation that he would play on the north side, because of his Las Vegas connection to Kris Bryant, for the right money, he could become a Southsider, too.