There are a number of takes on why the San Francisco Giants lost out on the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but the juiciest take yet has come from ccn.com, with the title “The AOC Effect: California’s High Taxes Cost The San Francisco Giants Bryce Harper“.
Now that’s just rich. We could get into a whole debate about taxes, but that is neither fun nor appropriate because this is a baseball site. But we can examine the factors that led to Harper signing with the Philadelphia Phillies instead of the Giants.
First off, before anything else we need to look at how good both teams are. I think it was clear to Harper and just about anyone else that the Phillies were in a much better place talent-wise. With the addition of Harper, they certainly have a chance to go deep in the playoffs in 2019.
Harper knew that if he had signed with the Giants, there would be an aging nucleus of players around him along with a depleted farm system. That’s not the most appealing situation to put yourself into when you are looking for a ten year-or longer deal.
But instead of acknowledging this fact, the author of the article instead blames California’s tax rates for the team’s inability to land Harper. Sure, California taxes individuals at a much higher rate than almost any other state in the country.
Brian Sabean has talked openly about this fact and how it has made it difficult for the Giants to land premier free agents over the years.
Yet, to chalk it all up to only taxes and nothing else is a mistake. Harper is smart to try and make as much money as he possibly can, but he is also a competitor who I’m sure wants to own a World Series ring or two by the time he’s done playing.
And let’s not forgot that Manny Machado just signed a $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres who, last time I checked, play in The Golden State. So blaming it all on California taxes is just far too simplistic.
This is where the article gets good, though. The author decides to compare the Giants losing out on Harper to Amazon pulling out of its plans to establish a new headquarters in Queens, New York.
If you aren’t familiar, Amazon pulled out of the Queens headquarters location due to backlash over the deal, which included tax subsidies of around $3 billion to the giant company, according to the New York Times:
"“Critics questioned that number [$27 billion in tax revenue New York would reap from Amazon’s presence] and said the money spent on subsidies should have been spent on improving housing and mass transit.”"
But instead, the author chooses to blame the situation on high taxes:
"“We saw it when Amazon pulled out of Queens over AOC’s insistence on high taxes.” AOC of course being the freshman Democratic congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."
Now, I can understand some of the parallels between the whole Amazon thing and the Harper deal. The Harper deal would have excited a fanbase that has grown sluggish over the last few years and would have definitely made the Giants a better team.
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The Amazon deal would have been very popular with some because of the number of jobs it would have created for people in Queens. Both moves would have been seen as PR wins for the politicians in the case of Amazon and the higher-ups in the Giants organization in the case of Harper.
But if you take a long view of both situations, it becomes tougher to find all the benefits. Who knows if the revenue Amazon would have brought in would have been enough to balance out with the tax subsidies they were requesting?
Who knows if Harper’s performance in the early part of his deal would have been enough to make us accept his decline in the later years while still getting paid tons of money?
Both situations are much more complex than many are willing to acknowledge. It’s much easier to just slap a headline on something that will get you clicks and make people upset than it is to examine the nuance of a situation and read between the lines.
We all know that it was more than taxes that kept Bryce Harper out of the Giants’ grasp. And while many fans were in favor of the Giants getting him, just as a majority of Queens residents were in favor of the Amazon HQ, I think the Giants will be better off without him.
They can begin to build up a respectable farm system through trades instead of having lots of money going towards a player who may not have been enough to get them into the playoffs in the next few years.
It’s all speculation, but we know for certain that Bryce Harper is not a Giant. We’ll see how things shake out this year and beyond, but I believe in the long run the Giants will be happy that they were not able to land the left-handed star.