Bryce Harper's reported 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, per ESPN's Jeff Passan, will give him an average annual value of $25.4 million, but had he been willing to accept a shorter deal, he apparently could have shattered the record for AAV.
"We had average values of $45 million offered on shorter-term deals," Scott Boras, Harper's agent, told Joel Sherman of the New York Post on Thursday. "We had a full buffet."
Zack Greinke's six-year, $206.5 million pact with the Arizona Diamondbacks represents the largest AAV ($34.4 million) in MLB history. While Harper got the biggest guarantee in North American sports history, Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres features the largest AAV handed out this offseason.
While it's not clear which team(s) Boras was referring to, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Thursday that the Los Angeles Dodgers had discussed a short-term deal that would "obliterate" Greinke's AAV record. MLB Network's Jon Morosi confirmed this, noting the offer was for four years and around $45 million a year.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported the San Francisco Giants made a 12-year, $310 million offer but added that California tax would have required the team to push its offer well over $330 million to make it competitive.
The San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox were also among the teams linked to the 2015 National League MVP this offseason.
Harper may not wind up being the highest-paid player on an annual basis in his new deal, but he did top Giancarlo Stanton's record of $325 million set in 2014. For Harper, his free agency was apparently never about the AAV.
"The goal was to get the longest contract possible," Boras told Sherman. "Bryce wanted one city for the rest of his career. That is what I was instructed to do. It is very difficult in this time to get [a] length of contract that takes a player to age 37, 38, 39."
That stance was reflected in the terms of the contract. Not only is the 26-year-old outfielder signing on for 13 years, but his deal also does not include any opt-outs.
"No opt-outs," a source told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "Harper didn't want one."
With the help of a full no-trade clause as well, Harper appears poised to finish out his career in Philadelphia. And he was willing to compromise to get a deal done with the Phillies.
"To get great length, you have to give something up," Boras told Sherman. "Frankly, the Philly ballpark had a lot to do with it. Bryce hits great there."
Boras also said Phillies owner John Middleton "flew out twice" to Las Vegas and "really went through the hoops to show how much he wanted Bryce."
Having spent the first seven years of his career in the NL East with the Washington Nationals, Harper has hit .268/.365/.564 with 14 home runs, five doubles, three triples and 32 RBI in 50 games at Citizens Bank Park. The six-time All-Star has a career .930 OPS in Philadelphia.