The buildup has been tremendous and, once the World Series is over, you can bet owner John Middleton, MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak will put on a full-court press to land either of those players, both of whome have a significant chunk of their primes in front of them.
So with a month remaining before teams can officially start negotiating with either player, one Las Vegas bookmaker is putting odds on the likely landing spot for Harper. And while the Phillies are in the mix, they are not seen as the favorite at this point.
Updated odds for which team Bryce Harper will be on for the first game of 2019 (@BovadaOfficial):— OddsShark (@OddsShark) October 4, 2018
The Cubs have been a rumored landing spot for Harper for a long time now. One of his very best friends is Chicago superstar Kris Bryant, and the Cubs are going to be World Series contenders year-in and year-out for the foreseeable future. There is a good reason why they are even-money to land Harper in free agency.
After Chicago, the odds fall off a cliff. The Dodgers are second at +500, with the Phillies third, at +550.
It’s unknown to folks outside the organization whether the team prefers Machado or Harper at this point. Machado can play shortstop or third base, two positions of need for the Phils, and the team was reportedly aggressive in trying to trade for him this summer. He finished with a 6.2 fWAR this season, hit 37 home runs and batted .297/.367/.538. Truly impressive.
Harper, however, brings a fiery disposition that may actually be a better fit for a quiet and fairly staid clubhouse. And he’s no slouch at the dish either, hitting 34 bombs with a .249/.393/.496 slash line this season — and many considered this a down season for the slugger. However, he was worth just 3.5 fWAR this season, almost three wins less than Machado.
Still, Harper is a six-time All-Star and would be a huge upgrade to an up-and-down Phillies lineup that is in desperate need of a veteran superstar in the middle of it. Based on these odds, the Phils have a decent shot at landing him, but may be running far behind the Cubs for the talented outfielder’s services at this point.
Of course, these are also just dumb betting odds, so it’s entirely possible this is all just stupid conjecture anyway.