Houston Astros Rumors: Why bigger payroll could lead to Bryce Harper

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Houston Astros Jim Crane publically said the payroll could continue to expand this offseason. Here’s why this could pave the way to a Bryce Harper signing.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane always said that as the team naturally improved, so would the payroll. So far, he has lived up to those comments the past few years. While not incredibly high priced, he brought in Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick, and Charlie Morton and traded for Brian McCann a couple years ago to bolster a young roster.

Later that season, he went out he approved one again to go out and spend big money and prospects to acquire one of the greatest pitchers of all time in Justin Verlander. He also signed and traded for several other players like Gerrit Cole and Roberto Osuna who have played pivotal roles in the team’s success.

Now, Crane has publically gone out and proclaimed yet again that he is more than willing to expand the team’s payroll if the opportunity presents itself once again this offseason. This is in spite of having ten players due to get raises in arbitration including Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.

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This statement by Crane could simply mean the Houston Astros are just doing what they have to do to make sure the team gets adequate replacements for the players they are losing. However, it could also indicate that he is okaying President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow to go superstar hunting in an attempt to catapult the team back to the World Series next year.

The Astros have previously expressed interest in Bryce Harper. It came out not too long ago that the team had a deal in place to acquire Harper at the deadline for a package that saw J.B. Bukauskas as the headliner. Just imagine what could have been down the stretch, Harper hitting behind fearsome hitters such as Bregman, Jose Altuve, and George Springer. Imagine the run production. I’ll take a second as you salivate…

So, the Astros interest is there but is Harper equally as interested? There have been reports that Harper is actually enamored with the Astros team, as he should be. Their offensive prowess is well documented and intact for at least the next two years. Harper’s production could simply explode in Houston.

He has definitely had his ups and downs in his career but the thing about a guy like Harper is his downs are better than a lot of player’s ups. Harper won an MVP trophy back in 2015 in a season that saw him launch 42 bombs while maintaining a .330 batting average and a 1.109 OPS. That’s a pretty incredible peak.

For his career, Harper is a .279 hitter with an incredible .388 on-base percentage that displays his astounding ability to draw walks. Harper also has a career average .900 OPS which just shows his incredible penchant for excelling in all aspects of the offensive game. Playing in Minute Maid Park for half a season should only help increase those numbers as well as his home run and RBI numbers.

Harper is going to take a massive deal to land. He rejected a ten-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals at the end of last season. There is a ton of speculation on what actually might happen when he signs but it’s safe to say the open market hasn’t seen anything like this before, a player so supremely talented at a such a young age. He is sure to blow contracts that Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez received.

Of course, taking Crane’s comments to mean Harper could be headed to Houston would mean that the Houston Astros are opening up their bank instead of just slightly increasing their payroll. A deal for Harper would be tough to swallow as it will be massive and exorbitant and nearly impossible to live up to. He’d also cost a first and fourth-round pick because of his rejected qualifying offer.

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All of that is true but geez…just imagine the lineup. Just imagine the run production. Just imagine the fear the opposing pitchers would feel every time they walk to the mound to face this team. After you’re done imagining and dreaming, don’t tell me you don’t want this to happen.

Now, is it likely that the Houston Astros land Harper? No, probably not. However, reports and reports come out that teams are out on signing Harper. Someone has to sign the star player, why not Houston? There may even be the possibility that he agrees to a shorter term deal that could favor the Astros or a long-term deal with a probable opt out.

Regardless, Crane opening up his checkbook doesn’t shut the door on the team signing Harper. He is in no rush to sign and this, too, may play into the Astros favor. So, keep your eyes on this Astros fans as it not out of the realm of possibilities quite yet.

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If the Houston Astros were to sign Harper a potential lineup could go as such: Springer, Bregman, Altuve, Harper, Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Tyler White, Robinson Chirinos/Max Stassi, and Reddick. That’s a pretty terrifying lineup if you ask me.