Bryce Harper, Phillies Agree to Record-Breaking 13-Year, $330 Million Contract

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper looks on during batting practice before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies have finally won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes after agreeing to a deal with the 2015 National League MVP. 

The team confirmed Friday that Harper has signed:

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday the two sides were finalizing a record-breaking deal worth $330 million over 13 years with no opt-outs. 

One source told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal there aren't any opt-outs because Harper "didn’t want one."

Per Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, Harper's deal includes a $20 million signing bonus with no deferred money. 

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reported the Nationals' offer would have deferred over $100 million to Harper and paid him until he turned 60.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he heard the deal got done through fans who were sitting behind the Phillies dugout providing "minute-to-minute" updates, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times.

All eyes have been on Harper's free agency dating back to the start of the 2018 season. He struggled out of the gate, at least by his lofty standards, with a .214/.365/.468 slash line in the first half. 

After winning the Home Run Derby at Nationals Park, Harper was back to his usual self following the All-Star break. The 26-year-old hit .300/.434/.538 in the final 65 games of the year. 

The Washington Nationals were unable to take advantage of Harper's second-half surge. There was speculation he would be traded prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but general manager Mike Rizzo squashed those rumors. 

Bryce is not going anywhere," Rizzo told Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post. "I believe in this team." The Nationals placed Harper on waivers to potentially move him prior to the Aug. 31 deadline, with the Los Angeles Dodgers being awarded the claim on the six-time All-Star. Washington again decided to keep him and ride out the final month. 

The Nationals tried to keep Harper from even hitting free agency. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported on Nov. 6 that Harper rejected a "mega" contract offer on the final day of the regular season. 

Once the World Series ended, the race to sign Harper in free agency began. He was in a unique position to break the bank because of his age and high level of performance throughout his career that will likely continue over the course of a long-term deal.  Despite Harper's age and skill set, it took until after spring training began before he found a deal in line with what he was looking for.

The only major concern for Harper has been injuries, but even that has been alleviated. He's appeared in at least 147 games three times in the past four seasons. 

It's rare to find a transcendent talent still in their prime on the open market. Harper has been one of the best players in since his debut in 2012. He ranks fifth in Major League Baseball with 184 homers and 30.7 FanGraphs wins above replacement over the past seven seasons. 

The Phillies hit a home run by adding Harper to the middle of their lineup for the next 13 years. He adds a rare combination of offensive skill and defensive versatility—the Nationals frequently used him in center field and right field—and will completely transform his new team's outlook for 2019 and beyond.

This was a crucial offseason for the Phillies, who are trying to compete with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the NL East. 

Phillies owner John Middleton told USA Today's Bob Nightengale in November the team was prepared to be a "little bit stupid" with their offseason spending. 

After the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants tried to get into the Harper sweepstakes late in the process, the Phillies finally got "stupid" to ensure they weren't outbid for the superstar.  

Philadelphia's offseason started by signing Andrew McCutchen, acquiring J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins and Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners. They also upgraded their bullpen by signing David Robertson. Those moves on their own would have improved the team's 80-82 record in 2018, but adding Harper to the mix gives the franchise legitimate World Series aspirations. 

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