Bryce Harper Rumors: Yankees Have Discussed Signing Star to Play First Base

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2018

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper in action during the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The New York Yankees have an outfield logjam, but that might not keep them from a pursuit of 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper this offseason.

Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported on Monday that New York is considering signing Harper to play first base. However, one source believes that scenario is "unrealistic."

Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs, 34 doubles and 100 RBI last season. After he hit just .214 during the first half, he used a huge performance in the Home Run Derby to give him some momentum and hit .300 in 79 games after the break. 

The Yankees already have outfielders Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and highly rated prospect Clint Frazier. And that's not even mentioning the oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury or designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton.

New York sought outfield help this past summer because of injuries. However, the team acquired a player with an expiring contract, Andrew McCutchen. That figures to be the case this offseason as well, barring trades.

Harper has spent nearly every inning of his major league career in the outfield, making just one appearance at first base. That came in 2018.

As Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez noted in July of the move to first, per MLB.com's Jamal Collier, Harper was willing to "do whatever it takes for this team to win."

Harper, who was a Gold Glove finalist in 2015, has played all three outfield positions but spent the majority of his time in right. However, he made 63 appearances in center this past season. Still, FanGraphs rated him as the second-worst defensive outfielder in baseball.

Part of those struggles can be attributed to his having to play center. And the 26-year-old Harper has suffered numerous injuries, including a 2017 knee setback that limited him to 111 games.

Growing pains could go with learning a new position, but playing first base would help with the wear and tear on Harper's body. Meanwhile, a move to the American League could also allow him to play DH at times, especially as he ages.

Harper will have his pick of teams, and as a result, he can decide which position he wants to play. The Yankees have long been viewed as a potential suitor for the six-time All-Star, but if he wants to remain in the outfield, he may not wear pinstripes in 2019.

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