The race for Bryce Harper is on. And while information regarding the running order is hard to come by, the White Sox reportedly have a bib.
It's been just about a month since the initial report of their interest in signing Harper, the biggest fish in this winter's free-agent pond who's expected to receive the richest contract in baseball history. Flurries of other reports have painted the White Sox offseason as an aggressive one as they are perhaps looking to infuse their rebuilding effort with one of the game's best players.
Well, we have at least a couple more details on the White Sox pursuit of Harper from Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and Tim Brown. Apparently the White Sox are one of about 12 teams who have already met with or plan to meet with Harper in Las Vegas, his hometown and the site of this month's Winter Meetings. The South Siders must be in the former category because Passan and Brown added that they used Jim Thome as part of their pitch.
What better way to try to lure a future Hall of Famer to your team than with a current Hall of Famer?
Of course, the biggest news in Passan and Brown's report is that the Los Angeles Dodgers used a similar strategy, sending owner and sports icon Magic Johnson to pitch Harper on the wonders of Southern California. Thome didn't have the surf to sell, obviously, but he's as much of an expert as you'll find on the benefits of putting on a White Sox uniform. He spent four seasons on the South Side, witnessed firsthand the aftermath, if not the actual event, of a World Series winning team and can speak to getting the royal treatment in his post-playing career. The team put him in the front office upon his retirement and showered him with deserved praise in celebrating his Hall of Fame induction this past summer.
Thome can also speak to playing for the team considered by some the favorite to land Harper, the Philadelphia Phillies. The White Sox acquired him in a trade with the Phillies after his third year in the City of Brotherly Love. You'd have to imagine, as a representative of the White Sox, he had more good things to say about Chicago.
It's hard to get a sense of the timing of Harper's decision or the specific frontrunners from the details in this report. You'd have to imagine Harper's decision won't come before the Winter Meetings, giving him a chance to meet with however many of baseball's 30 clubs want to pitch him when they all descend on Sin City. As for which of those teams already have or have plans to? The White Sox were mentioned alongside the Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees in that roughly 12-team group. The Cubs, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals were name dropped in the report, as well.
Regardless of who they're from, the White Sox will surely be competing against extremely lucrative offers, though with all the reports about their aggressiveness, it makes sense their's would be, too. After all, it'd be hard to be in on Harper if you weren't willing to hand out one of the biggest contracts ever, and the White Sox have been touting their financial flexibility, general manager Rick Hahn's preferred phrase to explain the fact that the team has hardly any long-term financial commitments to speak of.
The biggest hurdle seems to be their pitch of planned future success as opposed to pitches of immediate, championship-caliber rosters that Harper could join. The White Sox rebuild still has big league success as coming a year or two down the road, and even with a talent as immense as Harper's, would they even be a playoff team in 2019? Compare that to, say, the Yankees, who won 100 games last year and have an All-Star type player at most of the positions on the field. Joining that, if the money were equal, would seem difficult to pass up.
But Hahn, for one, believes the White Sox loaded farm system and the bright future it's planned to yield is a darn good selling point, too.
And having a Hall of Famer like Thome as the pitchman can't hurt, either.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.