Philadelphia Phillies: The case for a Bryce Harper trade

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

With the Philadelphia Phillies in the driver’s seat of the NL East, the team should go all in on a World Series appearance by trading for Bryce Harper.

I know this is technically an article about the Philadelphia Phillies, but let’s take a moment to talk about the Houston Rockets.

Last season, the Rockets rebuilt their team with the express purpose of trying to dethrone the Warriors and become the first team not named Golden State to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals in what feels like a decade.

Now granted, the Warriors, who won 73 games only a few seasons earlier were coming off of an impressive championship winning season off the back of free agent crown jewel Kevin Durant, but by building a team explicitly designed to take advantage of Golden State’s weaknesses, Houston’s GM Daryl Morey thought he could beat the team at their own game and finally end the Silicon Valley adjacent dynasty.

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The plan ultimately failed, but boy did they come close.

After taking three of the first five games of the series, a hamstring injury to Chris Paul ultimately cost the team the series, setting the stage for the Warriors in four.

And just like that, the Rockets chances of being NBA championship anytime soon were effectively dashed. Sure, the team will still be competitive in 2018, but after losing key defenders Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute in free agency, and replacing the duo with an over-the-hill Carmelo Anthony, it appears that the Rockets window has officially closed.

The moral of the story? You never know how long a championship window will be open, so if you have is a chance to go all in and bring home the trophy, it’s in a team’s best interest to do so.

For the currently in first place Philadelphia Phillies, that means putting in a call about  Harper.

Now granted, it’s not going to come cheap, as the Los Angeles Dodgers just gave up a staggering five prospects to rent Manny Machado for the remainder of the season, and Harper would apparently love to play for the New York Yankees sooner rather than later, but if you have a chance to add a player like Harper to a team with legitimate playoff aspirations, you have to do it.

That’s like the Philadelphia Eagles midseason trade for Jay Ajayi times 100.

Say what you will about Harper off the field, but even the biggest skeptic can’t argue that he isn’t one of the top two or three best players in Major League Baseball at the moment, with a larger-than-life personality that’s long been going to waste on a team like the Washington Nationals, currently trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of mediocrity.

In Philly however, he could be a star.

While it’s never nice to give up some of your best prospects to a division rival, all bets have to be off when discussing a top-tier talent like Harper.

At only 25-years-old, Harper’s best baseball days are certainly still in front of him, and even though he’ll surely demand one of the biggest contracts in Major League Baseball history this offseason, the Phillies are in a perfect situation to make that happen.

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With only $68 million invested in players next season, the Phillies could essentially double(or triple) their payroll going into 2019 with the addition of Harper and still have less money invested in their players than teams like the Boston Red Sox and Dodgers have this season. Furthermore, with young stars like Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins still on rookie deals for the foreseeable future, Philly could likely continue to field a championship-caliber roster over the next few seasons with their current core and some smart free agent additions, a claim that cannot in good faith be made about their roster as is presently constructed.

Simply put, there are two ways to build a championship-caliber roster, you either draft insanely well and cultivate homegrown talent like the Golden State Warriors and, or you buy a championship like New York Yankees. Even if the Phillies were to go all in and unload the farm for Harper, they would still firmly be in the former category.

While having a robust farm system is obviously important in baseball, as it’s a great way to cultivate homegrown talent for the big league roster, there’s no guarantee that any of these players will ever develop into a player as good as Harper. Could the Phillies be giving up two, three, maybe even four potential future starters in a deal for the Washington slugger? Most definitely. But, what are the chances any of those players develop into a player as good as Harper?

Is a superstar in the hand worth six in the bush? Maybe, but to me at least, a championship trump’s all. And unlike the Houston Rockets, there isn’t a Golden State Warriors-size boogie man almost guaranteed to win the World Series this year.

Sure, some will point to the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Astros or the recently reloaded Dodgers as favorites to win a pennant this year, but can anyone honestly say that the Phillies are decidedly worse than any of those teams with the addition of Harper, even if they have to give up a few of their current starters like Maikel Franco, Aaron Altherr, or even Odubel Herrera to get the deal done?

I don’t think so.

Now granted, there are certainly a few players who are likely untouchable at this point, like Nola, Hoskins, and potentially Scott Kingery but outside of the young LSU ace, do the Phillies even have a top 20 player in the league? While baseball isn’t as much of a star-driven league as, say, the NBA, having a player like Harper on the Phillies squad would instantly vault the team to the top of the NL playoff race, and likely make Philly World Series favorites going into August.

Next. Will the Philadelphia Phillies make another move prior to the trade deadline?. dark

While Harper could seemingly come to the Phillies for free as a free agent after the season, are a few prospects worth losing out on an All-World level talent who could headline the team for the next decade? That bet certainly didn’t work well for the Los Angeles Lakers with Paul George.

Though a potential deal would surely have its risks, like hand delivering a future start to a division rival, or the very real possibility of losing Harper for nothing at the end of the season, having an opportunity to compete and potentially win a World Series after almost a decade of baseball irrelevance may simply be too good to pass up for the Philadelphia Phillies.