The Phillies have signed free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper to a record-breaking $330 million contract, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman first reported on Thursday afternoon. His contract breaks the record Manny Machado set last week for the largest free-agent deal in baseball history, and it also breaks the record — previously held by Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million extension with the Marlins — for largest contract in baseball history. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the length of the deal, and it includes a full no-trade clause with no opt-outs, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, respectively:
Breaking: Bryce to the Phillies— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
Harper gets 330M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
Bryce Harper’s deal with the Phillies will be for 13 years and $330M, league sources tell ESPN. It will not include any opt-outs.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 28, 2019
And a full no-trade clause https://t.co/1qFsSyP52y— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 28, 2019
Source: “No opt outs. Harper didn’t want one.”— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 28, 2019
The addition of Harper doesn’t make the Phillies clear favorites for the NL East title, but it does give them a very real shot at winning the division for the first time since 2011. The signing of Harper — which seems likely to conclude their offseason spending — completes a very busy offseason of upgrades for Philadelphia, which also added J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos this offseason.
Harper, 26, will have the ability to fully showcase his best skill — his power — at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Though he’s only hit more than 30 homers in a season twice over seven years in the big leagues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hit 40-plus on an annual basis with the Phillies. Obviously, the Phillies will hope that he’s able to bounce back to his MVP form of 2015, when he hit .330/.460/.649 with 42 homers, 99 RBI, and a 10.0 bWAR. But by giving him more years (paying him through his age-38 season) and a $25.3 million average annual value (lower than the ones Machado and Nolan Arenado received in recent weeks), the Phillies give themselves a bit more wiggle room from an annual budget/luxury tax standpoint. That’ll be important in case Harper is more like the player he was in 2018 — and really has been for the majority of his career. In 695 plate appearances, he got on base at an extremely impressive rate but struggled to make contact and was a liability in the field, hitting .249/.393/.496 with 34 homers, 100 RBI, and a 1.3 bWAR. He had an atrocious -3.2 defensive WAR and was rated by WAA (a metric similar to WAR, but that measures a player’s value compared to the average player, rather than a random Triple-A player) as -0.8 wins below average.
Harper will join Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera as part of Philadelphia’s everyday outfield. The signing means that Nick Williams will slide into a fourth outfielder role — or perhaps even head to Triple-A Lehigh Valley since he has options remaining — with two out-of-options guys, Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn, facing tougher odds to make the major-league roster, and Dylan Cozens almost certainly headed back to the minors to serve as extra depth.
Harper reportedly rejected late pushes by the Dodgers and Giants in order to sign with the Phillies instead. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports that San Francisco also made an offer that would have broken Machado’s free-agent record — though not Stanton’s overall record deal:
I’m told Giants made a 12-year, $310 million offer to Bryce Harper. They were willing to go higher but would have had to go well over $330 million to get it done because of California taxes.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) February 28, 2019