It finally happened. After months felt like years and an offseason felt like a lifetime, Las Vegas native Bryce Harper has agreed to a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
With rumors persisting Harper didn’t like the city, or the climate, or the cheesesteaks, and with rumors that ranged from ridiculous (Harper going to the Dodgers based on an MLB The Show-playing session with a reporter) to desperate (White Sox fans thinking they had any chance whatsoever), it all turned out to be rubbish. In the end, none of it mattered. Bryce Harper wanted a record contract and he sure as shit got one, as Sin City SM has been reporting since October.
The deal itself is something to behold. The 26-year-old, six-time All-Star’s deal includes no opt-out clauses, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This deal is the largest in Major League history, breaking current Yankee Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million contract. Just last week, the offseason’s second-most coveted superstar, Manny Machado, signed a 10-year, $300 million with the San Diego Padres.
The offseason itself was chock full of rumors, as the odds seemed to shift with the prevailing winds yet those close to Bryce continued to express confidence he’d end up with Philly.
“Bryce doesn’t want to go there but I also know he wants the most money ever,” one Major Leaguer close to Bryce texted me back in January. “Honestly, knowing Bryce, it’s whoever offers him the most money.”
Still, some of the reports were almost comical, especially Dodgers and White Sox fans.
NEW COLUMN: I don’t know Bryce Harper well but we hung out and played video games in Las Vegas before the start of free agency. I feel the same way now as I did then. He wants to play for the Dodgers. It’s now up to the Dodgers to make the numbers work. https://t.co/Py0TQNbqVv
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 26, 2019
Not only did I break the #Dodgers meeting in Vegas story, I exclusively reported on Monday morning, that they offered Harper a 10-year, $330M+ deal. (The opt-out has since been moved to after year 3, at the request of Boras and Harper) Deal will become official on Friday. https://t.co/FR3ZgzYZyT
— MLB INSIDER (@MLBINSIDER_) February 28, 2019
BREAKING: The Dodgers are now the betting favorite to sign Bryce Harper.
Giants +1200 pic.twitter.com/OlcpRMSVM2
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 26, 2019
Peel back the curtain a little bit. You´ll see that The Reinsdorf family is about to launch a new sports network centered around the Bulls/White Sox/Blackhawks. Did you think those images of Bryce Harper all over the United Center were on accident?
— Brando Cel (@BigCelio) November 9, 2018
In the end, the Phillies move makes sense, especially because of the structure and monetary value of the contract. More importantly, Harper gets to stay in the division, stay the team’s top dog, join a team on the verge of being a contender, and still get the money he is asking for. The Phillies finished 80-82 in 2018 but was a contender until they floundered down the stretch and finished 22nd in total offense. The team already added arguably the best catcher in the game when they traded for J. T. Realmuto earlier this offseason.
Last year, Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins were their best offensive players with a .255 average and a 34 homers/96 RBI split, respectively. The addition of Harper and Realmuto could put them over the hump and the Phillies still have one of the top farm systems in baseball. Before adding Harper and Realmuto, stud prospects like Alec Bohm and Adam Haseley already had them closer to contending than many thought.
The offseason itself was a graveyard of bad reporting on both Harper and Machado but it is finally coming to an end more than two weeks after pitchers and catchers reported. Just two marquee free agents remain (pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel) as the focus can finally return to the game itself as teams continue their Spring Training slate of ballgames.
One thing is for sure: Harper has now moved into ‘High Roller” status here in Vegas, and that $330 million will buy a ton of Pizza Rock. But, if you ask whether or not the move is going to shake the foundation of the National League hierarchy, we’ll leave this gif right here: