Bryce Harper, finally, to Philadelphia
The 26-year-old slugger had been linked to the Phillies since the beginning of the 2018-2019 offseason after turning down a 10-year, $300 million offer to remain with the Washington Nationals, the team that drafted him #1 overall in 2010.
The total value of the deal is an MLB record, though the annual average value trails Nolan Arenado, the Colorado Rockies third baseman, who just signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with a value at $32.5 million per year, and Manny Machado, the San Diego Padres third baseman, who signed a 10-year, $300 million worth $30 million annually.
The Harper deal would come in at $25.4 million a year, still a hefty price tag.
Harper is coming off a subpar 2018 season in Washington, which saw him hit slash .249/.393/.496, with 34 homers and 100 RBI, and a WAR at just 1.3.
His value, heading into his eighth year, and beyond, is still, oddly, for a guy with that long a track record, still based on potential, and notably, his 2015 MVP season, which saw him slash .330/.460/.649, with 42 homers, 99 RBI, with an OPS of 1.109, and a 10.0 WAR.
Since that season, he’s had two sub-.250 seasons, two sub-1.5 WAR seasons, and through seven MLB seasons, has just one season with 100 RBI.
After he turned down the Nats’ offer, in late September, the Washington organization quickly moved on, building around an outfield featuring 2018 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Juan Soto and top prospect Victor Robles, and committing big free-agent money (six years, $140 million) to Patrick Corbin, considered by many the top free-agent starting pitcher in the 2018-2019 market.
The Phillies had targeted Harper early in the offseason, but had not been able to close the deal despite apparently being the only organization willing to go big and go long.
And now, the Nats’ NL East rival is paying him big, big bucks through what would be an age-39 season.
At least it’s over …
Story by Chris Graham