- Bryce Harper agreed to a 13-year, $US330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
- While the deal is massive in total cost, the average annual value comes in at a reasonable $US25 million, which will help the Phillies maintain flexibility going forward.
- Harper’s deal doesn’t include any opt-outs, which he wanted to prove he’s committed to the franchise.
- The deal is designed to lure other stars to the Phillies, with one report noting that attracting Mike Trout to join Harper is “realistic.”
Bryce Harper agreed to a 13-year, $US330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in a massive free agency move.
The deal set a new record for team sports in North America, topping Giancarlo Stanton’s $US325 million contract.
While the final numbers on the deal look massive, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, there are two big benefits for the Phillies, details Harper signed off on, that could help the team in the future.
First, the average annual value (AAV) on the deal is not as crazy as it may seem. Harper’s salary will average $US25 million for the next 13 years, with the deal de-escalating over time. According to Spotrac, Harper will be the 11th highest-paid player by AAV this season. There is some sticker shock associated with the total value and years, but the deal is not the craziest in MLB.
That (relatively low) average will help the Phillies stay flexible going forward. While they boast a young, intriguing offensive core that Harper is now joining, they will also be able to get Harper help in the future.
Attention will turn to who the Phillies could lure in free agency to join Harper. According to Passan, it is “realistic” that the Phillies could add Mike Trout in 2021 to form a star-studded duo with Harper.
“And because the deal’s average annual value is $US25.4 million, it gets flexibility to spend more in coming offseasons and not run the risk of exceeding the luxury-tax threshold. In other words: Yes, an outfield with Harper and Philadelphia-area native Mike Trout is realistic,” Passan wrote.
Trout won’t be a free agent until 2021, and if the bidding for Harper got high, the chase for Trout should be enormous.
According to Passan, flexibility and the pursuit of other stars is something that Harper was aware of while signing the deal. One of the more peculiar aspects of the deal is that Harper has no opt-outs.
Instead, Harper chose not to ask for opt-outs, knowing that his full 13-year commitment to Philadelphia could help lure other star players to the team, according to Passan.
On Friday, Harper’s agent Scott Boras echoed the same talking point on ESPN’s “Get Up!”
“Bryce got to the point of saying, ‘Players will be more likely to have confidence in the organisation that I’m with, knowing that I am there, that I’m going to be there for the long term, that I’m going to be there for 13 years. I will be part of a fabric of ownership of that organisation, and that will allow players to look at me as somebody that they know I’m gonna be a staple of the franchise,'” Boras said.
Phillies owner John Middleton said at the beginning of the offseason that the team was willing to spend money “and maybe even be a little stupid about it.” The Harper deal may come with a big price, but it already looks like a savvy investment for both parties.
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