Report: MLB wants Harper to commit to D.C. derby

Brian Tinsman
June 14, 2018 - 6:00 pm
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Midsummer Classic is less than a month away, and according to MLB insider Jon Heyman, executives in the league's front office are starting to sweat.

The All-Star Game will be held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. and feature some of the best young talents in the game. However, the Home Run Derby, another All-Star Week celebration, is suffering a power outage of confirmed stars.

That's why the league needs Nats superstar Bryce Harper to commit, something that he seems unwilling to do:

Harper has only once taken part in the event, and it may be something of a long shot – no pun intended.

Sources say MLB has reached out to Harper about participating in the derby, but word is they have yet to put any pressure on him; Harper hasn’t committed one way or another, and he is said not to have made up his mind.

The fit is obvious: Harper has a chance to win in his home ballpark, something that he fell just short of achieving at Citi Field in 2013. He also has an endorsement deal with T-Mobile, which is a major sponsor of the event. 

But that might not be enough to swing the pendulum. Harper is in his contract season, going into what could be a historic contract negotiation. His number at the plate (.224/.364/.500) are well below his career average, and his batting average is his career-worst by 20 points.

It isn't all his fault, as the team has dealt with a rash of injuries that leave Harper without protection, a limited ability to drive in runs, and the ability for opposing pitchers to pitch around him.

Power hasn't been a problem, as he leads the majors in both walks and home runs, which makes his absence from the derby lineup that much more glaring. Throw in that Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton also may not enter, and it could be a light-hitting field.

Whether or not that's worth risking his swing for the second half of the season remains to be seen.

 

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