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Harper breaks the bank

Harper breaks the bank
March 13
23:00 2019

After weeks of speculation and several team visits, Bryce Harper has finally signed a new contract. The Philadelphia Phillies won the bidding war for Harper, signing the free agent to a 13-year contract worth $330 million.

It was somewhat of a sluggish start to free agency for star players, but that all ended with the signing of Harper to his insane contract along with the 10-year $300 million contract Manny Machado signed the week prior. The Colorado Rockies also made a big signing by inking Nolan Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million contract, making him the highest paid position player on an annual salary basis.

Harper’s $330 million set a new record for the richest contract of all time in the history of baseball, eclipsing the 13-year, $325 million contract extension Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Miami Marlins before the 2015 season.

As a former Washington National, I was surprised Harper decided to sign with the division rival Phillies. It was reported that the Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract, but he turned that down, which tells me he really wanted out of the nation’s capital for some reason.

At 26 years of age, this 13-year deal will take him almost into his 40s. What makes this deal even more interesting is the fact it does not have an opt-out clause for Harper.

“He wanted to go to one city, stay there, build a brand and identity and recruit players,” said Scot Boras, Harper’s agent. “He wants to tell players, ‘Come play with me.’ He knows it will help winning more if he’s with one team the whole time.”

Harper is just hitting his prime in his mid-20s. He is a six-time All-Star player and won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2015 when he put up the best numbers of his career (.330 batting average, 42 home runs and 99 runs batted in). He followed that with two solid seasons, but in 2018 he had a career low batting average at .249. Boras claimed it was due to a lingering injury sustained in 2017.

I understand the need to sign a franchise-changing player like Harper, but I think the Phillies may have overpaid for him. They have a nice core of players and many are predicting them to be one of the better teams in the National League this season. The hope for Philly fans and probably the front office is to have Harper entice Mike Trout to make his way east when his contract is up after the 2020 season. Trout was born and raised in southern New Jersey and still lives in the area. 

The combination of Trout and Harper in the middle of the Phillies lineup, coupled with the complimentary pieces they have in place, would be a terror for National League teams. I think the reason Philadelphia paid so much for Harper is not only what he does on the field, but also what free agents he can attract and the economic impact he brings.

I hope the Phillies get their money’s worth out of Harper. He is a dynamic offensive player, but lacks the defensive skills you would like to see from a player at his position in the outfield. Let’s just hope the Phillies are happy with this choice five or six years from now.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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