Are Twins better off betting big on Bryce Harper than burning millions on middle-class talent?

Bryce Harper, a National League MVP at 23, is a free agent at 26, peddling his services in an industry that’s grown to nearly $11 billion in annual revenues. His combination of skills, age and marketing cachet make him an excellent fit for any major league franchise.

Even the Minnesota Twins.

Harper, who has 184 career home runs and a lifetime .900 OPS, rejected a 10-year, $300 million contract offer from the Nationals in September, and is a good bet to set a new standard for the most lucrative contract in North American sports history.

It’s taken weeks – and will likely require several more – for that process to play out. In the meantime, USA TODAY Sports will examine why every team could use Harper’s services – some more than others, certainly some better-equipped to procure them.

A case for Harper and the Twins joining forces:

On the field

At some point during the 2019 season, the Minnesota Twins will roll a podium to the infield, where Joe Mauer will address the crowd and then watch his number be retired after 17 years of meritorious service to the organization.

And just like that, the Twins will join the New York Yankees as a team that cannot issue Bryce Harper No. 7.

Sure, maybe Harper’s brand is so firmly established as No. 34 that his idolatry of Mickey Mantle is purely the stuff of faded childhood dreams. Nonetheless, while the Twins can’t offer Harper Mauer’s jersey, they can offer him something else – the $23 million in salary Mauer commanded for the past eight seasons.

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