Philadelphia natives, it is officially time to uncross your fingers. The deed has been done. The bull has been tamed. Insert any metaphor you wish here, because the Philadelphia Phillies have finally done it. They have signed Bryce Harper to the biggest deal in American Sports history, 13 years for $330 million, topping the record set by Giancarlo Stanton and the Yankees last year. Now that the dust has begun to settle from a chaotic Thursday in the sporting world, let us take a look back at everything that occurred.
Ever since the Machado signing about ten days ago, the whereabouts and rumors of Harper were in absolute disarray. There was a report that John Middleton’s place was found in Las Vegas, then the Dodgers announced they were back in the Harper sweepstakes(that same day, Pedro Gomez even recorded a comedic video outside their stadium with a Brinks truck in the parking lot), and then even the Giants put their name into the mix. Every detail began to be questioned: if he only wanted a long-term deal, he wanted an opt out option, the deal would not be as high as rumored. These all were proved untrue yesterday, as it seemed following Harper’s decision, all additional information began to pour out.
For one, it is clear that when Harper said he wanted team security, this was his number one priority. From some unconfirmed team reports, he would have made $45 million a year in a shorter-term deal. But in the eyes of Harper, guaranteed money and one team for his entire career meant more to him.
This brings up another interesting part of his deal. It comes in three nos: no-trade clause, no opt-outs, and no deferred money. These basically clarify that he is not going anywhere until he is 39, and the money from his contract will all come until that day. This raised the value of the money he makes due to inflation and insures that he will be making exactly $25.4 million from this year to his last, no more and no less.
Looking back a few months ago, the Nationals came out with a statement stating that they had offered Harper a contract worth $300 million over 10 years. He took heat for skipping over this deal, which now makes sense, but for more reasons than you think. As said above, none of the money is being deferred, which is clearly a big deal for Harper, because this is most likely the reason he did not take Washington’s offer. $100 million of that deal would have been deferred until he was 60 years old, making this much more of a difference of just $30 million.
Now, looking at the Giants (who by far were the quietest publicly with their details and offers) had offered the slugger a 10-year deal as well. Even though no dollar amount was listed, it is most likely that they did not offer as much as the Phillies did. But there may have been other factors in this. For one, the Phillies had all around had a phenomenal offseason, proving they’re in a win now mentality. The Giants do not look this way, as they have seemed to be in a lull of the NL Rankings and rumored in both signing and trading for talent and getting rid of some of theirs. Also, the great Bruce Bochy has announced this is his last season, so to play with a middle of the pack team and after one year enter a transition phase in the dugout could not have sounded as appealing as the Phillies current situation.
Lastly, let us look at the Dodgers, the biggest competition of the last week. The Dodgers seemed like a dream location for Harper. Two straight World Series appearances, youthful and veteran talent in both the rotation and position players, and they just questionably traded away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to open up position depth and cap space. So, what was the problem? The length. They did not even give a 10-year deal, which is mind boggling. Of course, paying a player that much until he is basically at the end of his deal like the Phillies did has its risks, but the ensured payback they will be receiving is unquestionable. For one, the fact that he is still in his prime, entering a new and fresh organization with a hitter friendly park is alone a reason to listen to his demands. But in addition, the revenue he will bring in throughout a season will make the hit to cap much more manageable than it seems. This fact has already been seen, as according to Todd Zolecki, before yesterday the Phillies had sold roughly 200,000 tickets to that point of the year. In one day after the news broke, about 100,000 tickets have been sold, which may be a one day record. In addition, we already see the advances in the athletics field prolonging the playing career of athletes, especially in baseball. Playing right field is one of the lesser physically taxing positions in the game, and by at least 2030, I am sure there will be an even more full proof way to keep these athletes in their best shape, despite older age.
Thursday, February 28 was a hectic day for Philadelphia, but could be the day that goes down as the beginning to a dynasty for the Phillies. It will at least go down as the beginning of the Harper era, which is 100% guaranteed. Now that the lineups are set and it seems that was the grand finale for Matt Klentak and his unforgettable offseason, it is clear that this move changes the dynamic of the team entirely. And although this may be considered an exaggeration due to the city in a signing hangover, but this move should be exactly what the team needs to transform themselves from NL East champions to at least NL Pennant champions this 2019 season.
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