In a spring following a relatively uneventful winter, the Dodgers are suddenly contenders to land the prize of this free-agent market.

Well, technically.

Don’t order that customized jersey quite yet.

In order to sign Harper, the Dodgers will have to demonstrate they are open to the kind of behavior they have resisted in recent years.

There’s zero indication they are.

What the Dodgers have are several advantages over the two other teams known to still be in pursuit of the former National League most valuable player, the Phillies and San Francisco Giants. They can win now. They have a richer history. Los Angeles is relatively close to Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas.

The Dodgers would be mistaken to think this will be enough.

The organization’s confidence has morphed into something closer to arrogance as a result of their recent success, but the team’s executives have to temper their egos and recognize closing a deal will require more than the warm sentiments principal owner Mark Walter conveyed to Harper in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The Dodgers will have to back up the figurative Brinks truck.

Doing something conventional like offering one of the sport’s best players a long-term contract will mark new territory for a franchise that has prided itself on its intellectual independence.

In the four-plus years with Andrew Friedman as their president of baseball operations , the Dodgers have revealed new road maps to victory, at least in the regular season.

They are believed to have visions of a similarly unique arrangement with Harper.

The six-time All-Star is looking for a contract a decade or more in length, but the Dodgers are banking the attractive elements of their franchise convincing him to settle for a considerably shorter deal with a higher annual average value.


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