Bryce Harper’s major payday finally arrived Thursday, as the outfielder landed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to multiple reports.
The contract, when signed, would be the largest guaranteed deal in North American professional sports.
Harper, 26, is a six-time All-Star who was pursued to the end by the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2015 MVP with the Washington Nationals, Harper has hit 184 home runs with 521 RBIs over 927 games, with a .279 career batting average.
Harper reportedly rejected a $300 million offer to stay in Washington and instead entered a turbulent free-agent market. But while his deal did not come until teams already had started to play spring-training games, Harper still landed the major contract he was seeking.
The Harper deal came over a week after Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Harper’s deal will not have an opt-out clause, per the player’s request. It will include a full no-trade clause, which Harper could waive.
Harper’s annual average deal is $25.38 million, or about $4.5 million less than Machado’s contract. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, said contract length was more important than money, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
Sherman attributed the following to Boras, via Twitter:
“The goal was to get the longest contract possible. Bryce wanted 1 city for the rest of his career. That is what I was instructed to do. It is very difficult in this time to get length of contract that takes a player to age 37, 38, 39.”
Boras added that shorter-term deals were offered with an annual average value of $45 million, but the commitment of Philadelphia’s owners and a chance to play in their ballpark helped to sway him to the Phillies.
Harper’s 14 home runs at Citizens Bank Park are his most in any stadium other than Nationals Park. He has a .564 slugging percentage at Philadelphia, and a .930 OPS in 50 games.
Harper was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft and made his major league debut less than two years later with the Nationals. He hit 22 home runs and batted .270 in that first season to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
During his MVP season of 2015, Harper led the National League in runs scored (118), home runs (42), on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649) and OPS (1.109). He led the National League with 130 walks last season, while hitting 34 home runs and collecting a career-best 100 RBIs.
But while the Nationals advanced to the playoffs in four of Harper’s first six seasons, they did not reach the postseason last year, finishing a disappointing 82-80, while ending the season eight games back in the National League East.
In going to Philadelphia, Harper joins a club that has not reached the postseason since 2011, although their 80-82 record last season showed the Phillies to be a team on the rise. The club’s .494 winning percentage was their best since they finished .500 in 2012.
—Field Level Media