Just this past Sunday, the Oakland Athletics met with their 2018 top draft pick, outfielder Kyler Murray, and tried to convince him to stick with baseball. The next day, Murray, who also happens to be the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner as a quarterback for Oklahoma, applied for the NFL draft.
I imagine my public pitch to the Yankees and Bryce Harper will result in even less success; Murray has left the door open to baseball, whereas Yankees general manager Brian Cashman essentially closed the door to Harper on Dec. 10. When Cashman massaged his stance the next day, he uttered his “fully operational Death Star” throwaway line to which many Yankees fans mistakenly, hilariously attached meaning, adding agita to an odd offseason for the game’s Evil Empire.
Yet here we stand in mid-January, with the game’s top two free agents, Harper and Manny Machado, still unsigned and the Yankees wholly uninvolved on the former and marginally involved on the latter. The sentiment has been expressed here repeatedly (some might say excessively) that Machado represents a poor baseball fit and a questionable personality fit for the Yankees. To the contrary, I’m all aboard the Harper-to-The-Bronx train. Here’s the pitch:
To the Yankees: First of all, just confirming that you know the majority of opposing pitchers still throw right-handed? If you acquire one more righty hitter, with DJ LeMahieu the latest addition, you might just tilt over like a small plane with the Clemson offensive line on one side and a jockey bachelor party on the other. Harper’s lefty bat would significantly balance your lineup that currently features exactly one prominent such entity in switch-hitter Aaron Hicks.
The acquisition of Harper also would take the heat off two significant Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner, who has drawn considerable fan wrath for not spending big this winter after finally getting the team’s payroll under the luxury-tax threshold in 2018, and Giancarlo Stanton, who would pivot away from the griddle much like Jason Giambi did in 2004 upon the Yankees’ trade for Alex Rodriguez.