Even though the Toronto Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode, they've kept an eye on free agent slugger Bryce Harper - who could land the richest contract in the history of baseball.
Appearing on the TSN 1050 Overdrive Show (h/t Ian Hunter of Daily Hive), Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins admitted that the team has thought about going after Harper.
"He would fit well in between (Bo) Bichette and Vladdy (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) at some point, there’s no question. He’s an intriguing player," Atkins said. "It’s something that we’ve contemplated; we’ll continue to. There’s a lot of talent that would be able to help our organization moving forward and we’ll continue to consider all of our alternatives."
It's certainly an interesting tidbit of information from Atkins, given that the Blue Jays were never linked to the Harper sweepstakes. This team already released veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and dealt catcher Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers - suggesting that the team was devoted to rebuilding entirely while cutting back on payroll.
Of course, the chances of the Blue Jays actually landing Harper are extremely slim. He's going to easily cost at least $300 million, and the Blue Jays are known for their refusal to spend much in free agency. Are they really going to hand out a record contract - in the midst of a lengthy rebuild?
The Blue Jays are building a core around their top prospects - namely Bichette, Guerrero Jr., Danny Jansen and Ryan Borucki. The front office has pledged that payroll will go up when this team is competitive again, but there's no way the Jays will be competing for a playoff spot this year.
That's why fans should take Atkins' words with a grain of salt. Adding Harper to a lineup filled with promising young talents sounds intriguing, but the Jays aren't about to shell out a $300-plus million contract for him.
What This Means
The Blue Jays have stayed away from pursuing big-named and expensive free agents, especially over the past three years. It's hard to take them seriously as a landing spot for Harper, especially with teams like the Philadelphia Phillies preparing to hand him out $300-plus million.