Are Padres ready for Bryce Harper? Four years after lost winter, San Diego a viable haven

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 San Diego Padres.

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

It may take weeks 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 Padres joining forces:

On the field

Remember the 2015 San Diego Padres? They were a forgettable bunch, 88-game losers who churned through three managers and then quickly disassembled.

For a hot few moments the previous December, however, they were the toast of baseball, as general manager A.J. Preller spent lots of cash to acquire Justin Upton, James Shields, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp. Just for kicks, he traded for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton right before Opening Day.

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