With the expected trade of acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic, the culture has officially changed in Queens. Brodie Van Wagenen has single-handedly changed the perception of this team on his very own. Whether you think the move to pull the trigger on the trade mentioned above, it signifies that this team wants to compete right now. It makes sense, as the landscape of the National League East as never been more volatile. There was an eight game difference between the champion Braves and the second place Washington Nationals. To make things even crazier, there was only five games of separation between the Nationals and the Mets, who finished fourth.
While the Braves signed Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann to solidify their lineup, the look and feel of the Mets, Nationals, and Phillies will all be different come opening day. One of the biggest variables in the landscape of the way the division is going to shake out is free agent Bryce Harper. With Andy Martino reporting on Friday morning that the Mets are expected to receive $60 million back in the deal from the Mariners, and with a clear win now culture installed within the team, there is no reason for the Mets not to pursue Harper.
To start, Harper is one of the most talented players in the game. He’d bring a passion to the team that hasn’t been seen since 2015, when the team had Daniel Murphy pumping the guys up all the way to a National League Pennant. Without that sparkplug on their team, the Mets have been largely unsuccessful since then. Throwing him into a team that just acquired an electric closer, shed some ugly contracts, and possesses one of the best rotations in the game would bring life back into the seats of Citi Field.
Of course, the talent factor then comes into play. At age 26, Harper will already eclipse 1,000 career hits and is also likely to move over 200 career home runs. Considering that Yoenis Cespedes is a non-factor moving into the 2019 season, having an outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Harper could easily create one of the best outfield tandems in the game. Not only would they be one of the best, but also they’d be incredibly young, with Conforto being 26 and Nimmo 25.
Harper has also seen a significant amount of time at Citi Field, being he was a division rival. In 245 plate appearances, Harper has hit .273 while also slugging 12 homeruns and 11 doubles. It is rare that you could secure an elite player that has also had so much experience in your stadium. There is no question that he could hit in Citi Field. Another big factor would be that you are keeping him away from the Nationals or the Phillies.
While many are opposed to Harper because of his personality, he may be exactly what this team needs to take them to the next level. There is no doubt that Harper would bring an excitement to the Mets that has been absent for a few seasons, although it would come at a price tag and personality that many are uncomfortable with.