Los Angeles Dodgers: How losing out on Bryce Harper changes the season

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed  All-Star Bryce Harper to a 13 year, $330M deal. Where does this leave the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Years ago, in December of 2018, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer to the Cincinnati Reds, leaving a hole in the outfield and in the hearts of Dodger fans. Many wondered how the Dodgers would build on the success they’ve had over the past two years and, for the most part, they answered the question.

In return for Puig, Kemp, Wood, and Farmer the Dodgers were able to add 2017 draftee and shortstop Jeter Downs to their ever-growing farm system. Downs clocks at #7 on the Dodgers’ list of Top Prospects. He may need another season or two to mature in the minor leagues but Downs could be the Dodgers’ infielder of the future.

Downs, as good as he is, is not the outfield replacement the Dodgers needed so, rather than looking to a stacked farm system, many chose to look up, high up the ranks at one of the games’ best players; Bryce Harper.

Free agency has been one wild ride this offseason, with the two biggest names, Harper and Manny Machado, not signing until well into February. Machado signed a 10-year deal with the San Diego Padres on the 19th.

With Machado off the market, teams shifted their focus to Harper, an elite outfielder who is right up there with Mike Trout as the best player in baseball right now.

Ever since the offseason began, the Philadelphia Phillies were the favorite to land Harper. The Dodgers were in the mix, but it wasn’t until this past weekend  when Dodger fans were officially on “Harper-watch.”

By Monday, reports were saying that the Phillies signing Harper was “a long shot” and that maybe, just maybe, we could see arguably the best player in the National League suiting up in the colors of the reigning NL Champs.

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Yu Darvish could not get it done for the Dodgers in ’17. Machado couldn’t win it for the Dodgers in ’18. Maybe this year, maybe Harper, could be the player that finally get the Dodgers the Commissioner’s trophy.

Alas, the Dodgers lost out on Harper. Per Jon Morosi, “The Dodgers did not offer Bryce Harper a 10-year contract,” and the Phillies did. 

There are a few different ways to look at this. If you are a Phillies fan, you’re probably ecstatic. Your team is great and you could very well find yourself in the playoffs come October. The Phillies are now a strong, worthy opponent to whoever should meet them in the playoffs if that is indeed where they end up.

If you’re a Dodger fan, maybe you feel like the team missed out on “the signing of the century” or maybe you think the team is better off not spending the cash.

Or maybe you’re not a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies or the Los Angeles Dodgers and you think that no matter where Bryce Harper plays, what matters most is that he’s on the field because talent like Harper cannot, and should not, be ignored.

At the end of the day, the Dodgers are going to be okay. One player does not win a World Series, it takes the entire 25-man roster and a dugout full of coaches.

Maybe the Dodgers would have won the World Series in 2017 if Darvish hadn’t been tipping his pitches in Game 7, or maybe they would have missed out on the Fall Classic entirely without him.

The problems the Dodgers have to overcome in order to get back to the World Series for the third year in a row are not, and have never been Bryce Harper related. Their problems, or concerns rather, come in the form of the health of Clayton Kershaw, and Corey Seager. Their concerns lie in coming up big when it matters most in games, and not losing the lead in the ninth inning. The Dodgers’ concerns lie in the reasons they lost the World Series to the Boston Red Sox last season.

The Dodgers have the makings of a championship team. They have Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger. They have Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly.

But it doesn’t matter how fast a runner is if his leg is broken during the big race.

The Dodgers do not need Bryce Harper to win the World Series but if they make it there, and fall short again this season, fans won’t be able to help but wonder if all the money and the massive commitment would have been worth it.

The Dodgers player development machine. dark. Next

What if, at the end of the day, Bryce Harper could have gotten it done for the Los Angeles Dodgers? What happens then?

I guess we’re about to find out.