The Chicago White Sox can easily afford Harper
Despite being a “small market” team, the White Sox should have no problem affording Harper.
The White Sox had baseball’s second-lowest payroll last season, and their only players signed past 2020 are Tim Anderson and Nate Jones. With James Shields gone, the White Sox have a load of cash on their hands and don’t have any in-house players that they need to spend it on just yet.
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, is notorious for netting his clients, contracts that are higher than they deserve. While Harper is still one of the best players in baseball, his 2018 season should’ve cost him a bit in free agency. However, Boras will not let 2018 impede Harper’s quest to become the highest paid player in the MLB.
At the age of 26, Harper is a rare case as a free agent. He’s a serious candidate for a ten-year contract and hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Harper will cost a ton of money, but there’s a great chance that he ends up being worth it.
I’d say a fair estimate for a Harper contract is something like eight-to-ten years, and $330-$400M. Amazingly, the White Sox would be able to field Harper a $400-million contract, and still be in the bottom-15 in baseball in terms of payrolls.
Any time big money is shelled out, there’s a massive risk for failure. The White Sox need to consider this risk before making a major financial commitment, but their ability to make that sort of commitment is not to the least bit of concern at all here.
Finally, a deal will likely consider at least one opt-out, likely after the second year. This would be fine for the White Sox, as a 28-year old Harper would have a hard time finding north of $400M unless he explodes for an MVP season or two during his time in Chicago.