Sox Tout Young Core In Recruiting Pitch To Harper

The White Sox and Bryce Harper had a meeting in Las Vegas on Nov. 19.

Bruce Levine
December 04, 2018 - 1:59 pm
Bryce Harper

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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(670 The Score) There's plenty of money to go around in MLB free agency, where the focus right now is on outfielder Bryce Harper, a generational talent in his prime who is on the open market.

The White Sox are one of many teams interested in Harper, and they've laid out their recruiting pitch to him. The White Sox had a meeting with Harper in his hometown of Las Vegas on Nov. 19, sources said. 

Among the White Sox contingent meeting with Harper was Jim Thome, a Hall of Famer who was a key part of the team's initial recruiting party. The White Sox, Dodgers, Phillies and Yankees are among the teams that have already met or plan to soon meet with Harper, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported.

Nearly half of the 30 MLB teams have inquired about the 26-year-old Harper and want a sitdown meeting with him and powerful agent Scott Boras, sources said. That includes the Cubs, who are set to meet with Harper soon, Yahoo Sports reported.

The Winter Meetings start this Sunday in Las Vegas, where numerous teams will have the chance to entertain, inform and sell Harper on their teams and cities.

With one of the lowest payroll commitments in baseball and owner Jerry Reinsdorf's history of paying up in free agency, the White Sox are a genuine threat from a financial perspective in the Harper pursuit. In their meeting with Harper, the White Sox tried to sell him on the young talent that has already ascended to the big leagues as well as the prospects in their pipeline who will soon be making an impact at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Another key point in any pitch to Harper from the White Sox is that Chicago is a home ripe for endorsement opportunities. That alone could add windfall opportunities for a player of Harper's stature to make millions more outside of baseball.

Harper is a six-time All-Star who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Nationals. He  has averaged 32 homers and 91 RBIs per 162 games played and carries a .388 on-base percentage, .512 slugging percentage and .900 OPS for his career.

The Cubs' pursuit of Harper will be intriguing as well. Although the Cubs are believed to have limited payroll flexibility with around $210 million committed in 2019, the team's front office has never publicly said it was out of money. With that in mind, it's worth noting that the large contracts of left-hander Cole Hamels and infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist will open up about $32 million after they come off the books after 2019. That figures to be around Harper's annual pay on his new contract.

There's no apparent favorite to sign Harper. Phillies owner John Middleton has already said his organization is ready to spend big in free agency, which caused some to surmise that the Phillies were the early favorites. But there are many teams involved in the sweepstakes.

Harper turned down a 10-year, $300-million offer from the Nationals late in the season, according to the Washington Post.

"This is not just a baseball operations decision," Boras told 670 The Score on Tuesday about Harper's decision. "Every team wants a generational talent on there club. The real issue is the ownership commitment to contract with the player. Ownership must be directly involved because of the iconic value of Bryce Harper is so great. That is even independent of his baseball value."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​