Nobody knows exactly how the Bryce Harper situation is going to end up, but as Cardinals fans, we can know where we want Harper to sign.
Both the Phillies and the Nationals have taken strides forward this offseason after disappointing seasons in 2018. The good thing about Harper potentially going to either the Phillies or the Nationals is that it is not an NL Central team. Not sure of the difference that makes? The Cardinals play the other NL Central teams 18 times each year compared to about six times for non-divisional NL teams. That is a big deal.
The simple way to answer the question is to ask who is the worse team of the two proposed finalists. Wanting Harper to go to the worse team is just common sense. The worse team getting Harper just moves them closer to the better team and keeps every team at a closer level. The Cardinals don’t want any super teams in the NL.
The Phillies have made great moves this offseason in McCutchen and Segura but those moves fail to stand up to what the Nationals have done. In my opinion, it would undoubtedly be better for the Cardinals for Harper to go to the Phillies over the Nationals.
The Nationals do not need Harper to be a serious contender in 2019 and adding him back to their team would no doubt make them a top three team in the NL. Adding Harper to the Phillies definitely makes them a team that could compete with the Nationals for the NL East.
Once again, the fact that Harper very likely won’t be on an NL Central team in 2019 is the most relevant fact to the St. Louis Cardinals. Many fans will complain when he doesn’t sign with St. Louis, but trust that most likely Mo is saving the team from an unhealthy financial commitment. Yes, a player like Harper only comes around every once in a while, but in this case, the fit just isn’t right.
The Cardinals will most likely see Harper in St. Louis for at least three games in 2019. I will be interested in seeing what a crowd’s reaction is when he is called to the plate. No matter where Harper signs, the comparisons to Harper and Fowler/Martinez/O’Neill in 2019 will be very common as hindsight is always 20/20. It may look bad that the Cards’ missed on Harper in 2019, but nobody will truly know until later in whatever contract he signs.