Bryce Harper

USA Today

Bryce Harper Wants To Be In Philly

He wants to be a Phillie for life. 

March 01, 2019 - 10:55 am
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Hey Philly, get out the Crisco, start greasing the light poles, because Bryce Harper is coming to town. If you’ve been looking for a reason to tomahawk a Grey Goose bottle at someone sitting on a traffic light, now is the time. 

The news broke just as the show was ending yesterday: Bryce Harper is signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course he was. That was always going to be the result. For all the talk about the Dodgers coming in with heavy money on a short deal, or the Giants coming in late, there was no way that Harper was leaving guaranteed money on the table. Nor should he. 

And then came the actual contract details: $330 mill over 13 years. Wait, what? The 330 mill makes sense, that was the number that had been kicked around a lot. Especially since that’s pretty much what it would take to beat Giancarlo Stanton for the biggest contract in history. 

But 13 years?!? That’s a curveball. That means he’s taking less money per year than Manny Machado. In fact, it’s less money per year than a number of guys. It’s not what A-Rod made per year. It’s not what Kershaw makes per year. Is it even what Johan Santana was making at the peak of his contract?

Okay, but what about the opt-outs? I mean, everyone knows that he really doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia, so he’s probably got an opt out at 4 or 5 years so that he can get his cash and then bolt for the West Coast in his early 30s on a new deal. Nope. No opt outs.

That is huge for Philadelphia. Not just for the team, but the city. Because that says that Harper wants to be there. He wants to be a Phillie for life. 

So for all the talk that he was all about the money, he’s taking less per year, for a longer contract, with no opt-outs, to play in Philadelphia. That means that if everything goes according to plan, he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a Philadelphia Phillie. If that isn’t reason enough to make a Philly fan eat a celebratory pile of horse crap, I don’t know what is. 

They just got the biggest rock star in baseball and he’s all theirs. That deal says that he’s all in. There’s not risk of him leaving in a few years if he doesn’t like it. Nobody’s clowning the City of Brotherly Love right now. 

And of course there are going to be people who jump all over it, saying that it’s too much money, the contract is too long, that Harper isn’t a great fielder, that as Tom Verducci said on this show – he never left his feet to make a play in the field last year, that he plays the most replaceable position in baseball, that he’s injury-prone and that there’s no way this deal pays off in the long run for the Phillies. Yes, and?

If you’ve been one of those people griping that baseball owners have been greedy and haven’t been paying players, then it’s kind of hard to complain when the Phillies step up and pay Bryce Harper the way that they did. If your argument has been that front offices are too obsessed with stats and finding value in middle relievers than paying for stars, then it’s kind of hard to point to Harper’s WAR and say that was a bad move. 

Because here’s the thing: they aren’t just signing Bryce Harper’s glove. Or his bat and what it can do in that bandbox park that he has dominated as a visitor. Or his WAR.

They are signing him for the star power. They are signing the rare thing who lives up to the hype. The guy who was on the cover of SI at 16, All-Star at 19, MVP at 22, and just signed the biggest deal in baseball at 26. 

Is he the next Mickey Mantle? No, that’s another guy and I’ll get to him in a second. But he is maybe the only rock star in the game and that matters. 

How many other MLB players have ever had an interview answer go viral the way that Bryce Harper has? Better yet, how many other MLB stars have a personality? Seriously. How many can you name?

Brian Wilson getting fined for having too much awesome on his feet was a long time ago. So was Wilson and The Machine. And being a certified ninja. And showing up on my show with what appeared to be a sex mask. 

Harper isn’t rolling with The Machine or talking about taking ninja classes, but he does have “it.” All you need to know is that answer that dropped when a reporter asked him a question he didn’t like. I don’t even need to play the drop because if you know sports, you already know it. 

And you know that catchphrase has been beaten into the ground. Hell, there were US Senators using it as an attempt to be cool. When was the last time anyone tried to reference baseball in an attempt to be cool?

And sure, the next ultra-long contract like this that pays off for the team at the end of the contract will be the first. The league is littered with guys who signed huge deals that looked good for the first half and giant anchors in the second half of the contract.

I get that. There is no sure thing. It’s not my money, but 330 mill is a lot of “not my money.” That said, if you’re looking for a bargain at the back end of a 10 year contract, you’re looking in the wrong place. 

And even if you were, you’ve just found it. I’m not looking to turn this into an accounting and finance show, but if everyone expected 330 mill for 10 years and Philly got him at that price for 13, they’re effectively getting three years for free. And it gives them financial freedom for something else that I’ll get to in a minute. 

Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies was always going to happen. And now it has. And for Phillie fans, that’s the best reason to party, climb poles, and eat horse crap.