Bowden wrote an article for ESPN Insider recently, about how Bryce Harper’s free agent stock has plummeted due to “his performance and lack of production.”
How Jim Bowden writes for Insider, a service dumbasses like me pay real American money for, continues to stay well beyond my capacity. Just last week I wrote an article rolling my eyes at the idea of Tim Tebow trying out for professional baseball, which naturally featured an Insider piece from Bowden about how if he were a GM, he’d give Tebow a shot. But I didn’t post it.
Well Bowden isn’t a GM, and thank god for that theoretical team’s fan base that he’s not.
I could seriously comb through each paragraph of his Bryce Harper post and find at least two things I disagree with, but for this purpose I’ll just offer the most egregious statements:
Although Harper’s potential remains the same, his performance and lack of production have significantly reduced his value on a long-term contract, at least for the time being.
- Let’s start with “lack of production”. On the year Harper is hitting .251/.383/.465 (121 wRC+). That’s 21 percent better than league average in a “down” year for him. His OBP is tied for 9th in the National League. His slugging percentage in 30th. And he’s been playing through a shoulder injury! His production is damn fine.
- Bryce Harper is just 23 years old. He won’t be a free agent until after next year. I know Bowden’s schtick appeals more to the general crowd, but surely even dim observers know that the absoluteness of “significantly” gets reined in pretty quickly once he slapped “for the time being” at the end. GM’s don’t operate in that kind of knee-jerk fashion.
Young stars like the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts and the Orioles’Manny Machado have all passed him this year in terms of future value based on the analytics, trends and actual performance.
- Okay, Bryant and Betts and Machado are all really good. But they aren’t very relevant to this, particularly not Bryant or Betts — who won’t be free agents until the 2020’s. Machado will be a year after Harper, and like Harper, Manny will be the big ticket item of the free agent class.
- But that doesn’t mean he’ll get more money than Bryce Harper. Harper is going to hit free agency as a 25 year-old, an almost unprecedented young age. Not only is he going to get the biggest contract in the history of the sport, it will probably eclipse the $400 million mark in total value. A fair cost for the best player on the planet.
If Harper were to sign a multi-year long-term contract, his realistic value now has to be reduced from a potential market value of $400 million to a range of approximately 10 years and $300-$330 million. This plummet in “stock” value makes it highly unlikely that Harper and his representatives will be willing to sign after such a dismal season.
- Honestly, for much of this article and most other Jim Bowden articles, it reads like a sports column in The Onion. First of all the “plummet,” from $400 million to “approximately 10 years and $300-$330 million.” That tragic proclamation goes from Biggest Contract Ever to Yeah It’s Still The Biggest Contract Ever.
- Again with this “dismal season” shit. BRYCE HARPER IS STILL REALLY GOOD. Bowden talks about him like he’s falling off a cliff. And he’s on pace for his 4th four-win season in 5 years. Also he’s still 23.
This leaves the Nationals with a problem. If they can’t sign him long term with his value low, should they consider trading him now this offseason when his trade value will never be higher? Or should they risk overpaying him based on what they think he’s going to provide in the future?
Holy shit this is dumb as fuck. The whole paragraph.
- He just spent an entire article talking about how low Harper’s value is, then he writes “should they consider trading him now this offseason when his trade value will never be higher?” He is having a dismal season. Right? So what about that equates to his trade value never being higher? Doesn’t make sense.
- “Risk” is what major league front offices use, with every decision they make. In the end they are just gamblers. Very smart gamblers, but still. And what they think Harper will provide in the future is, like, kind of the name of the game.
- Successful franchises don’t make expensive decisions on whims; they do their homework; they make their best reasonable judgement on how much a player is worth in wins, and in productive years, and assign a dollar amount to that. They don’t play Russian Roulette with that much money based on how they feel. It’s business, and it’s math.