Having exercised financial restrain last winter in order to get below the $197 million luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season and thus reset their penalties, most expected the Los Angeles Dodgers to be much more aggressive in free agency this year.
The class, headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, was potentially due to include Clayton Kershaw as well. However, he and the Dodgers agreed to a three-year contract extension in lieu of the left-handed ace reaching the open market.
While indications are the Dodgers won’t re-sign Machado, they have been among the teams connected to Harper. One report had part-owner Magic Johnson joining a Dodgers contingent to meet with the superstar outfielder in Las Vegas.
However, Johnson has since refuted that he was part of a free agency meeting with Harper, via Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
Originally, two sources told Yahoo Sports that Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson had joined a Dodgers contingent in Las Vegas to meet with Harper. Johnson on Tuesday insisted no such get-together had occurred.
“The only time I remember meeting Bryce Harper was on the field at Dodger Stadium two years ago when Dusty Baker introduced us,” he said.
The thought of Johnson being part of a Dodgers group to meet with Harper sent the fanbase into a frenzy late Monday evening. As Lakers president of basketball operations, Johnson was responsible for sealing the deal with LeBron James this past summer.
It’s plausible Johnson could still be used to lure Harper, should the Dodgers remain interested in signing the 26-year-old. But how aggressive they might be is a question itself, as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has shied away from the type of mega deal it presumably will require to sign Harper.