The long saga is over, and Bryce Harper finds himself moving 140 miles east to the the Philadelphia Phillies thanks to a 13-year, $330 million mega-deal.
Bryce Harper got what he always wanted – the biggest, total money contract in Major League history. He doesn’t have the highest AAV, but his contract comes with no-trade, no-opt out clauses, and – oh yeah – all that money. Philadelphia will be paying Harper until he’s 40 years old. This deal overshadows the previous record holder, which was Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth deal of $325 million over the same amount of years.
In retrospect, it was a weird hill for Harper to take a stand on, but at least this whole debacle is over. The six-time All-Star and 2015 National League MVP is certainly worth the price tag considering what players like Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado received recently. Arenado’s deal, which is for a mind boggling $260 million over just 8 years which results in a $32.5M AAV, that barely misses the $34.4 AAV that Arizona ace Zack Grienke has.
The summer of 2019 is going to be an interesting study when we look back on it. Two players in their prime hit the open market, and there wasn’t as much interest in them as people expected. Bryce Harper had reported conversations with the Yankees that never went very far, at least two sit downs with the San Francisco Giants, and met repeatedly with the Philadelphia Phillies. He also had major interest from the Chicago White Sox, who also made an equally lucrative offer to Machado.
It’s crazy because every single MLB team should have been making offers to Bryce Harper. How often does a future Hall of Famer entering his physical prime just come up for grabs like this? There are superstars, and then there are mega stars. I’m still of the camp that firmly believes that Mike Trout is the best player in the world, but I can’t deny that Harper is by far the most marketable player in the entire league. His skillset at the plate also certainly justifies the heavy price tag that the Phillies will be paying for the next thirteen years.
As will always be the case, people love dingers and Bryce Harpers delivers those en masse.
One of the downsides of Bryce Harper, is that he doesn’t necessarily improve your defensive metrics nor your actual, defensive output. The Phillies were comically porous last season and also accumulated the second-most errors (133) in the majors. Very few right fielders have a dramatic impact on a team’s ability to play defense, so Bryce will have to hope that the 2018 dips in his production were an anomaly, and that a change in scenery will help revitalize his performance at the plate.
The big red herring here is that his former team, the Washington Nationals, didn’t seem eager to pay the price they new that Bryce Harper was going to command…oh wait…I meant “demand”. There is a part of every baseball fan that should be curious with Washington’s reluctance to shed the payroll required to retain a known commodity. Is he not worth it? Is anyone worth that price in baseball?
The Phillies were already +250 co-favorites alongside the Washington Nationals to win the National League Central, but are now the clear-cut favorites to secure the division at +180.
More importantly, Philadelphia has dropped to a +450 second favorite to win the National League Pennant, right on the heels of the LA Dodgers at +400. They went from +1200 to win the World Series prior to signing Bryce Harper and corrected down to +900.
Since making back-to-back World Series in 2008 and 2009, the Phillies have missed the last 7 post seasons and have never finished higher than 3rd in their division. Bryce Harper will usher in a new era as both look to overcome their recent playoff woes.