If the Yankees have officially ruled themselves out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, that’s news to Scott Boras.
The uber-agent, who held his annual press conference before dozens of media members at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Wednesday, hinted that the Yankees’ expressed disinterest in the 26-year-old slugger may be exaggerated.
“I’ve never heard the Yankees say that… It might be that they say things to you. I wasn’t there,” Boras told reporters. “As far as the Yankees and what discussions I, Hal [Steinbrenner] and [Brian Cashman] have had, I will leave that to our own…”
Earlier this week, Cashman bluntly dismissed the ongoing rumors of the Yankees pursuing Harper, who is projected to receive a multi-year contract worth $300-plus million.
“At no point all winter have I said I am looking for an outfielder,’’ Cashman said on Monday. “The Harper stuff… I am surprised you are still asking… I have [Aaron] Judge, [Giancarlo] Stanton, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Brett] Gardner, [Clint] Frazier, [Aaron] Hicks. Ellsbury will be healthy and Frazier will be healthy… Take [Ellsbury and Frazier] out. I have Hicks in center and Stanton, who is athletic as hell, as the designated hitter because Judge is in right and I have Gardner in left.”
Cashman also said the Yankees aren’t considering the idea of moving Harper from the outfield to first base.
“We covered this earlier in the wintertime,” Cashman said. “People asked about the [Harper playing] first-base stuff. I am sure it’s potentially a possibility but it is not something we would play on at that level, at that type of money at first base.”
Although Cashman claims the Yankees’ outfield is too crowded, Harper would undoubtedly be an upgrade over several of the team’s current options. Ellsbury, one of Boras’ clients, missed the entire 2018 season due to a variety of injuries and hip surgery, and Frazier nearly sat out the whole year with complications from a concussion.
So, that’s why Boras isn’t exactly convinced the Yankees aren’t the least bit intrigued by Harper.
“The Yankees are very adept. They’re smart,” Boras said. “They are going to do something, and I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they’re not doing it and have every intention of doing something else when it’s best for them to do it…
“When the nurse walks in the room with a thermometer, the issue is not what the thermometer says that day. The issue is, what’s the health of the patient when they’re ready to leave the hospital? And [the Yankees] are not ready to leave the hospital yet.”
Harper, who happens to be a Las Vegas native, slashed .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs, a career-high 100 RBI and 130 walks, and 169 strikeouts in 2018.