Bryce Harper Wants to Finish Career with Phillies After Signing $330M Contract

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2019

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Bryce Harper is introduced to the Philadelphia Phillies during a press conference at Spectrum Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies made the Bryce Harper signing official Friday, and they ushered in a new era by holding the former National League MVP's introductory press conference at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida, on Saturday.

It was only fitting that the Phillie Phanatic helped kick off the festivities:

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

After members of the front office made their opening comments, the moment Washington Nationals fans have been dreading finally became a reality—Harper putting on a Phillies jersey:


Bryce Harper, Philly guy. https://t.co/9xgJfVnzP2

That's a sight that will take some getting used to. In fact, even the former Nationals star had a slip-up during his press conference:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Whoops 😂 https://t.co/3wG2dnDrTS

With opening statements and introductions taken care of, Harper then opened up about the thought that went into his decision.

Signing a 13-year, $330 million deal that featured no opt-outs raised eyebrows around the baseball world. However, the six-time All-Star made it clear Saturday that he was looking to make a commitment for the long haul.

"I want to be somewhere to finish my career and for a long period of time," Harper said, per Fox 29's Kristen Rodgers. "I wanted to be able to dig my roots somewhere."

Perhaps history played a role in Harper's free agency. Neither Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $252 million) nor Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325 million) played out their record-setting deals with one team. If Harper is going to change organizations at some point down the road, it will be his call, as he holds a full no-trade clause.

Moving from Washington to Philadelphia is not the only uniform change Harper is making with this signing, though. After wearing No. 34 throughout his Nationals career, he chose to switch to No. 3 with the Phillies out of respect to the late Roy Halladay, per NBC Sports Philadelphia:

NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly

"I wore No. 34. But I thought Roy Halladay should be the last to wear it." Bryce Harper has the utmost respect for the Hall of Famer. https://t.co/Q9pTXqALFU

Halladay died at the age of 40 in November 2017 after being involved in a plane crash. The 2019 Hall of Fame inductee spent four years in Philadelphia, throwing both a perfect game and a no-hitter in 2010.

The No. 1 overall pick by the Nationals back in 2010, Harper spent years as the target of a hostile Citizens Bank Park crowd as a member of a National League East rival. However, the ex-Washington star noticed a shift in the tone of Philadelphia fans as he approached free agency.

"The first six years, the fans sitting behind me were not very nice," Harper noted, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "The last year, they were very nice."

Well, he figures to already be off to a good start with the passionate Philadelphia fanbase, as he used part of his introductory presser to do some recruiting.

"I know there's a guy in about two years who comes off the books, so we'll see what happens there," Harper said.

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

“I know there’s another guy in about two years who comes up off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.” Bryce Harper elaborates on how his record-setting contract still allows the Phillies financial flexibility to bring in other players. https://t.co/hC17HFbxGc

Although Harper did not call anyone out by name, he was likely referring to Mike Trout. You know, the Los Angeles superstar who has two American League MVP awards, four runner-ups and a fourth-place finish in seven full big league seasons. Trout is a New Jersey native and a noted Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Trout's contract is set to expire following the 2020 season. 

Phillies owner John Middleton made the biggest headline of the offseason by telling Nightengale in November: "We're going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."

When asked about those comments Saturday, he shared his thoughts on the largest contract in MLB history.

"Does it look like stupid money to you?" Middleton responded, per Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times.