DID BRYCE HARPER MAKE A MISTAKE?

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Let me preface this by saying that I hold no ill will for the city of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia Phillies. They built a good team over the last few years, and should be in contention this season. I don’t think that it’s “bad” for anyone to sign with them, and this article is not meant to come off that way.

Harper didn’t want to go to Philadelphia and was so “excited” he got the name of the city wrong. It seems that all offseason long, there was only one team willing to give him the biggest contract in history, and since it seems that it was his goal, he had no other choice. He had a very good offer from LA with a higher AAV, but for less years. The San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox all popped up in rumors here and there, but outside of San Francisco, none of them seems to have made a big push to sign him. Chicago in fact publicly took themselves out of the running, despite being in on him at the beginning of the offseason. The three teams that you would normally expect to be in on him were missing: the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

New York and Boston didn’t have room for him, but the Cubs’ excuse was a suspicious claim of being out of money, which is just too laughable to seriously consider. The Cubs just didn’t want to spend. In short, Harper’s market was far worse than we all expected and the offers that he was looking for just weren’t there.

Let’s be realistic, Harper has been to injury-prone and inconsistent in his career to warrant a long-term commitment. Just look at his stats, is 2015 how he really is? Or was that an outlier? Was he injured in 2016? Was 2018 just unlucky due to BABIP and if so what about the increase in strikeouts? Take a look at any of the game’s best players and they have been relatively consistent. Ironically enough, Manny Machado fits that description amazingly well.

The perfect deal for Harper would’ve been a short-term high AAV one, with the idea that if he can stay healthy and consistent for 2 years, he can then get his big payday. If he was an MVP candidate in 2019 and 2020, would he really not get a good contract at 28? If 2016 was a fluke due to an injury and 2018 due to BABIP, then we can reasonably assume that if he starts playing less aggressively, he should produce like an all-star. That’s how he played in 2015 and 2017 prior to getting injured.

Let’s do the math here, suppose he took LA’s offer and received BUT for one less year. He now made $90 million for 2 years. He now needs to make $240 million to match what he’s making from Philadelphia. Would he not be able to get a 6 or 7 year deal for $40 million a year at that point? 7 years/$40 million a year is $280 million, $40 million more than he is currently making. I know what you might be thinking, too many “ifs”: what if he gets injured? What if he doesn’t produce? Well, what does it say about Harper, if he can’t trust himself to perform for 1-2 years? In fact, let’s say he takes 1 year/$50 million and hits free agency at 27 after an MVP caliber year, would you take over or under him beating the total money he is currently getting?

I strongly believe that Harper could’ve made more money AND signed with a team which he wouldn’t have to settle for. I can think of various scenarios where more big market teams get involved on him next year. Bottom line is if he settled for Philadelphia as I believe that he did, he had other options, but refused to bet on himself and took the safe way out. Now he’ll be playing for a team that he doesn’t seem to be that fond of, and if that team gets the inconsistent Harper of the last few years, the Philly fans will let him have it and they just happen to me one of the most passionate and critical fan bases in the world.

17 comments

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  • Ridiculous opinion; must be a Mets fan.

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  • This article is full of assumption. Of course Harper wanted to go to Philadelphia. He turned down less AAV to play there. Stop spreading false rumors based on assumptions.

    And why wouldn’t he want to go to Philly? He will absolutely rake in that stadium and he gets to play with his friends Hoskins and Realmuto.

    No offense, but this whole article reads as sour grapes.

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    • The only team offering him a long-term deal was Philadelphia. LA offered him a higher AAV but far less overall money. He reportedly wanted the biggest contract in history and there was only one option for that.

      Reports said that he didn’t want to go to Philly and considering he waited so long to take their offer, when there was no real bidding war, makes it pretty believable to me.

      I’m not upset over him signing with Philly, I just don’t think it was the right decision for him, and that’s not a knock on Philly who had a great offseason. I don’t really think Philly should’ve signed him for that long either, as he’s too inconsistent and injury-prone.

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      • The reports about him not wanting to go to Philly were debunked as fake news before he even signed. San Fran offered him a long term deal.

        I’m not saying it was Philly or bust, but the myth that he settled for Philly is complete garbage. This entire article is based on rumors that were since proven false.

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      • You’re ignoring that the Phillies never made an actual offer until about a week before he agreed to terms. He didn’t wait all offseason to accept their offer; they discussed all offseason what the makeup of the offer would be, and then it was made and negotiated and agreed to. This might even have been stated by the owner himself at the press conference, or in one of the many “here’s how it went down” stories that followed.

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      • It’s unrealistic to think that they waited until ST began to offer him a contract. They may have raised their initial offer, but he was able to sign with them since the offseason began, as they were the only team offering him that long of a contract.

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  • Where exactly did he get the name of the city wrong? If he had to settle for Philly why not get an opt out clause?

    Clickbait and poorly written clickbait.

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    • He called it “DC” and it went viral. Philly didn’t offer him one because they were bidding against themselves. No other team offered him a long-term deal and that’s what he wanted.

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  • This is a funny story. If he didnt’ want to go to Philadelphia AND he could’ve made more money under your scenario, why did he choose a 13 year deal wtih no opt out? What did he think — “geez, I really don’t want to go here, but its the most money so let me lock myself into a bad situation for the rest of my career?” That makes zero sense.

    On the other hand, as you argue, he is oft-injured and his performance has been up and down, he gave up some potential up-side by choosing the contract that ensures he gets paid regardless of how he is physically for the rest of his career. Also, as has been pointed out in numerous media stories, the higher AAV offers were in California where the tax implications were significant. And much of the Nationals money in their $300 million offer was deferred So Phila really did have the best offer on the table.

    But, the one piece of this puzzle that cuts both ways is the lack of an opt-out clause. It either says I want to be here. Or it says, I am worried about getting injured and don’t want to take my chances if I get hurt or don’t perform over the short-term.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He wanted a long-term deal and only one team was offering it. It‘s that simple. He could’ve made more under my scenario, but he also would have to gamble on staying healthy and productive, considering how inconsistent and injury-prone he‘d been I can see the logic in taking the best long-term deal instead.

      If he really wanted to go to Philly, why didn’t he sign in December? It was common knowledge that Philly would offer him the most money on a long term deal and they were the only ones offering it. He waited until Spring Training began and no other long-term offers materialized.

      That’s exactly what I‘m saying, Philly offered him the best offer for overall money.

      You make a great point about the opt-out clause, considering it only really benefits the player, as it‘s only used if he has a good season and expects to make more, I strongly suspect that Philly insisted on not including it as they had all the leverage.

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  • Neil I think you are wrong on Harper making a mistake and also your reasons for your opinion. While his contract is the largest offered, and it probably doesn’t max out his probable lifetime baseball earnings because of the relatively low AAV, I don’t believe money was his prime motivating factor. Because of the length of the deal, the no opt out, and the no trade clause I think he was motivated by the desire to stay in one place for the rest of his career. What fueled this desire I think was partially family concerns about having stability but also the chance for baseball immortality that may happen in that hitter friendly park. If the Yankees had offered a slightly less lucrative 13 year off I think he would have gone there for the short right field porch. CBP is the best hitting park of those who were after him. I don’t think it was a coincidence he is wearing #3, Babe Ruth’s number.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your analysis Tom, it‘s definitely possible that he was looking to be in the same place his whole career and that he would take the Yankees offer if offered. I think that the length of the deal definitely swayed him away from short term offers from LA and possibly San Francisco.

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  • Neil, appreciate your response, but this is why I commented the way I did (I admit I had a bite to my comment):

    “Bottom line is if he settled for Philadelphia as I believe that he did, he had other options, but refused to bet on himself and took the safe way out. Now he’ll be playing for a team that he doesn’t seem to be that fond of, and if that team gets the inconsistent Harper of the last few years, the Philly fans will let him have it and they just happen to me one of the most passionate and critical fan bases in the world.”

    If you really believe Bryce Harper settled to come to Philadelphia, then you and I just have agree to disagree. The Phillies needed a left handed power hitter to balance their line-up and provide protection for Hoskins. His AAV is not even in the top 10 for active players. In three years, it may drop to top 25 with Mookie, Mike Trout, and others testing free agency. Yes, the length is too long, but the $330M was the right number.

    As long as he hustles and plays the game the right way, fans in Philly will also have his back. Think Chase Utley.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I respect your opinion and thank you for reading my article and commenting. When I say he settled, I’m not saying it as a knock on Philadelphia or the Phillies. I’m saying that I believe that he preferred to go to a different team such as the Yankees (grew up a fan and was willing to switch to 1B to play for them) or the Dodgers (rumor that he wanted to play for them). However, since neither was interested in a long-term deal with one not offering any deal and the other only short-term, he chose Philly.

      Utley was great. Should be a Hall of Famer.

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