Washington has been Bryce Harper’s home since he reached the major leagues. The team has been successful. He enjoys the city and has a good relationship with management.
Those are the reasons he might stay after next season if all things were equal.
But all things are never equal.
The New York Yankees are the game’s biggest brand. The Los Angeles Dodgers, another iconic franchise, are a few hours away from his native Las Vegas. A third famous organization, the Chicago Cubs, has one of Harper’s childhood friends at third base (Kris Bryant) and plays in Wrigley, which Harper named his dog.
All three clubs enjoy national followings. All three have won World Series titles. And all three likely will offer Harper more money than the Nationals are willing – or able – to pay.
What would you do as a 25-year-old superstar who enjoys the spotlight and loves baseball history?
Me? I’d do whatever my heart told me.
We already know Harper has a heart. He skipped the Nationals’ Winterfest last year for his wedding. He was absent again this year as he celebrated his anniversary with Kayla, posting an affectionate message on Twitter along with a picture of them eating hamburgers.
“… Thank you for always pushing me and being there for me in all aspects of life,” he tweeted. “I can’t wait to keep learning about you for all eternity! I love you!”
If Harper wants to be pushed and keep learning what life has to offer, you certainly couldn’t blame him for leaving.
Even if the offers were identical, Washington would represent the routine, the familiar, the comfortable.
New and exciting? Hardly.
More like old and tired.
But don’t get me wrong. Sticking with the tried-and-true isn’t a character flaw. Liking what you do, who you work with, and where you live is a rare trifecta, not to be taken lightly or for granted.
Nats ace Stephen Strasburg forwent free agency and signed a long-term extension last year. He’s another West Coast native, like Harper, but Strasburg chose to make D.C. home. He called it the right decision for him and his family.
Maybe it will be the right decision for the Harpers.
But leaving wouldn’t be the wrong decision.
Harper merely faces the same stay-or-go choice that everyday employees face all the time, except his answer will draw way more money and receive much more publicity.
What would you do?
Nats fans are biased, but honest introspection can lead to just one conclusion:
Harper departing for a new adventure in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago would be totally understandable.