The Philadelphia Phillies are tied to 26-year-old star outfielder Bryce Harper for the next 13 years, but Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Harper's deal foreshadows the future of another face of MLB: Mike Trout.
One week before Harper owned baseball's richest contract ($330 million), Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. According to Verducci, the Phillies could've added Machado as well as Harper but had their reasons for not doing so.
"A club source said before this offseason began that the club had enough money to sign both Machado and Harper," Verducci wrote, "but wanted just one of them in order to keep money in reserve for Trout."
Verducci noted that Harper's average annual value of $25.4 million, per ESPN's Jeff Passan, leaves enough room in the Phillies budget to bid on Trout should he become a free agent after the 2020 season. The 27-year-old is heading into the fifth year of his six-year, $144.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, with whom he has spent his entire career since debuting in 2011.
Harper's agent, Scott Boras, compared his client's contract to Machado's and addressed the lower AAV.
"Bryce took less AAV. He took more years. And we're playing on a winning team," Boras told Verducci. "Bryce Harper wanted to play on a winning team now and one that has the revenues to sustain it. He got all those things. When Manny Machado is 35, let's see if he gets those millions over the remaining three years."
Boras said Harper was offered more money on a 10-year deal than Machado, but Harper was focused on the length of his contract and wanted "to be with one team" for the remainder of his career.
When one team executive questioned Harper's durability, Boras pointed out that, over the last four years, Harper only has 10 fewer plate appearances than Trout.
Speaking with reporters Friday, Trout was adamant about focusing on spring training and the season ahead—"you don't worry about anything else"—but did not rule out an extension with the Angels before his contract expires in 2020.
Trout has ties to Philadelphia. He grew up in Millville, New Jersey, which is just over 45 miles outside Philly. When he's not crushing 30-plus home runs for the Angels, Trout is often on-site rooting on Philly-based teams.
In December, Trout attended a Philadelphia Eagles game and was spotted chatting with Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins and pitcher Aaron Nola.
Rumors will swirl regarding Trout's relationship with Philadelphia either until he becomes a free agent or signs an extension in L.A.