ESPN teammate Buster Olney wrote a very strong Insider column Thursday on the subject, finishing with the line, "But any forecaster with any sense of the player and the franchise would tell you: It would be shocking if Harper isn’t wearing a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in 2019."
So let's look at why a "Bryce cheer" might replace a "Bronx cheer," and why it may not.
WHY HE WILL BE A YANKEE
1. Money, money, money: The Yankees still have seemingly endless money. While Hal Steinbrenner doesn't want runaway contracts, it is not because the team doesn't have a lot of cash. Steinbrenner -- in what I say is a wise move -- wants to avoid the back end of these long, big-money deals, when teams pay for what a player was, not what he is going to be.
The Yankees have made it clear that if they are going to go 10 years for anyone again, they will have to be in their 20s. Harper will be 26 when he hits free agency. So 10 years and $400 million may get it done.
2. Boras Corp.: Scott Boras will tell you he get players signed before free agency, which is true. If a player wants to make a deal, Boras will get it. However, Boras' modus operandi is to hit the open market to maximize the player's value.
Considering Boras' legacy, it is hard to believe he won't want to have the first $400 million or -- heck, why stop there? -- $500 million player. So it would be surprising if Harper doesn't make it to free agency.
3. Legacy: Money usually wins out. But Harper grew up in Las Vegas as a Yankees fan and seems to have an appreciation for the team's history. He might be starting a great legacy in D.C., which could prove too much to leave. However, take a look at this picture:
To emphasize, this does not mean he is coming to the Bronx in 2019. LeBron, pre-free agency, used to come to the Garden and say how it was the mecca, blah, blah, blah. So this should be taken with a heavy dose of sodium.
4. The right-field porch: The guy's swing is made to hit home runs into that right-field porch. He hits a lot of long homers, but imagine how many cheapies he would have at Yankee Stadium.
5. The New York market: The Yankees have more crossover appeal than any baseball team -- and it's not even close. In basketball, with no hats or helmets and with one player's ability to have such a huge impact, you can probably market just as well from Cleveland as New York. But a successful association with the Yankees can make a star soar. I don't know if this is important to Harper, but if it is, it could help the Yankees if all things are even.
WHY HE WON'T BE A YANKEE
First and foremost, a lot can happen over the next three and a half seasons.
2. Steinbrenner ownership: We are not here to reignite any rumors, but who even knows if Hal Steinbrenner and friends will own the team in 2019. They deny they have any interest in selling, so we will have to believe them, but it is more than three years away. A different ownership group may have an alternative view of signing Harper.
3. Injury: Harper could hurt himself, making him unattractive in free agency.
4. Judgement day: Maybe Aaron Judge or some other outfielder becomes such a big star that the Yankees decide they should spend their dough someplace else. While Harper is currently 22, Judge, in Double-A, is 23.