JUPITER, FL – On Thursday morning, before the whole world knew where Bryce Harper would be playing for a while, I asked Brodie Van Wagenen if he preferred the slugger to go west to the Dodgers or to the Giants rather than finishing in Phillie.
The general manager of the Mets insisted that he was "solely focused" on his team, saying that if he gave the desired results and remained unified, "we can not beat anyone. We are not concerned with what others are doing. "
When it was revealed late in the day what exactly another player would do – the Phillies agreeing to pay $ 330 million to Harper over the next 13 seasons – I texted to ask Van Wagenen if it changed anything. One word in return: "Nope".
That's what a team leader has to do: do not overreact while trusting his group. But the rest of us can be pragmatic. In each forecasting system, NL East's four main competitors are separated by eyelashes. So putting a slugger in the age of majority on one of these clubs has an impact on the ecosystem. Van Wagenen rightly loves his pitching staff. Yet why deal with 19 games and 100 plate games with Harper each year, rather than a home series if Harper had exploited his talents to the west?
This exacerbates a problem that weighs on these Mets. Yes, they improved their membership list for 2019. But they did not do it in isolation. The Braves have added Josh Donaldson, have Ronald Acuna for a full season and have the best farming system in the division to keep improving.
The Nationals lost Harper, but won Patrick Corbin, improved their catch and deepened their enclosure.
The Phillies had already secured Andrew McCutchen, JT Realmuto, David Robertson and Jean Segura before finally reaching the "stupid money" part of the program promised by owner John Middleton by hitting Harper to Giancarlo Stanton ($ 325 million) to the most important contract of all time.
In addition, they could still face Dallas Keuchel and / or Craig Kimbrel.
In case you forgot, the Mets finished fourth last year. They could be well improved and finish fourth again, that is the dynamics of the division.
William Hill's bookmaker had a total of 88 wins for the Nationals, 87 wins for the Phillies and 86¹ / ₂ for the Braves and Mets before Harper's signing. Philadelphia jumped to 89¹ / ₂ with Harper.
These are projections, but whoever does this work imitates them.
The Mets could emerge from this Van Wyck at rush hour. But their rotation should remain at least as good as last year, the manager will have to be much better in the second year than it was in his first year and the first injuries of Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie can not say as much . listing.
And even if all goes well, the job gets a little tougher with the fact that Harper stays in their lives at NL East – unless you think he's a cancer clubhouse and / or that he's in trouble. he is about to overload himself in a bad season trying to justify the Contract.
Jeff Wilpon declined to comment on Harper's involvement with the Phillies. But it's clear that more than 10 years and over $ 300 million are going above their tolerance, even though it's worth noting that the Mets now have Robinson Cano up to 40 years old, while the Phillies made a commitment to Harper until age 38.
Current Mets plans do not provide counter-strikes, especially with a left-wing starter. They did not find a joint financial assessment with Keuchel and they thought they could compete with Gio Gonzalez last year.
"We will always look for ways to improve and improve our team, but we do not intend to react reactively," said Van Wagenen.
Scott Boras insisted in a phone call to say that his client had not acted imprudently.
"We had average values of $ 45 million on short-term contracts. We had a full buffet, '' said Boras.
Instead, the agent said that Harper wanted a contract for the rest of his career and had to exchange a lower annual value to achieve it. He said the two face-to-face meetings with the Harper family in Las Vegas, organized by Middleton, in which he had expressed his intention to be one of the top five payroll clubs in the foreseeable future, were crucial, as did a pitch-friendly playing field – as opposed to the bigger ones. construction sites in San Francisco and Los Angeles – where Harper's historic desires could be pursued.
No dollars have been carried forward. No opt-outs were included. A non-exchange clause has been granted. This does not mean that Harper will never be moved. For the moment, however, he remains in the east of the NL. At its peak. In a stadium that plays to its strengths. For an owner wanting to throw his wallet to problems.
Of course, it could go wrong. But that could go very very well, that's reason enough that the Mets would have been better served if Harper – as the Dodgers and the Giants once were – had gone west.