Bryce Harper and Mike Trout

USA Today

Future Is Bright In Philly

The Phillies are still roughly 50 mill below the luxury tax.

March 01, 2019 - 11:56 am

Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies is a huge win for the Phillies. And a huge win for Bryce Harper. And a huge win for one Michael Nelson Trout. Because now the market has been set for Trout and as good as Harper is, Trout is even better. 

But let me start with Philadelphia. Signing him was a statement move. Signing Bryce Harper is a huge statement for Philadelphia. They’ve been rebuilding. And they came into this offseason talking about all the money they had. How much money? “Stupid money,” according to owner John Middleton.

They had so much money they were talking about signing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. They had a very good offseason before yesterday. Don’t forget, they’ve already added a pair of all-stars in Jean Segura and JT Realmuto, as well as Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson. You bring in All-Stars at short and catcher in the same offseason, that’s strong work. Very strong work. 

But after talking the kind of junk they were talking about “stupid money,” they would’ve looked pretty stupid if nobody took their money. 

That would’ve looked bad. So they had to have Harper. Even if that meant going up to 330 mill. And even if it meant signing Harper to a deal for 13 years.

Why? Well, here’s one reason: according to Todd Zolecki of MLB dot com, the Phillies have already sold 100,000 tickets since the signing was announced less than 24 hours ago. That’s not bad. Not bad at all. 

Now you’ve added three all-stars in one off-season and you’ve got a serious lineup. How do you celebrate something like that? If you’re new teammate Jake Arrieta, you do this. 

If you’re near a TV, you’ll want to see this. And if you aren’t, I’ll just have to describe it for you

That’s a CY Young winner throwing on a bedazzled speedo, some slides, and sweeping the kitchen. Why? Why no. Why does anyone do anything? Because they can.

I mean, I have no idea what I just saw. And I’m not entirely sure I ever want to see it again, but it’s a safe bet that Arrieta is pretty pumped about the move. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear a bedazzled speedo and sandals when I’m PISSED.  I BREAK OUT THE BEDAZZLED SPEEDO AND SANDALS WHEN I’M PUMPED.

And there are plenty of reasons for that celebration, strange as it is. Because the Phillies just loaded up and are ready for battle in an already loaded NL East. That division is a damned arms race. 

The Nationals lost Harper, but they added talent in other spots. The Braves are stacked. Even the Mets, if they can learn how to cook and really just learn how to not be the Mets, are better. And then there are the Marlins. I could spend a whole show on the Garbage Marlins, but I’ll just say this – while everyone else in the division is looking to get better, the Marlins keep looking to get worse. And they keep succeeding. 

Ignoring the Marlins for a moment, and we should actually all ignore them for a lifetime, Philadelphia had to get Harper. With the way the rest of that division is going, crazy as it is to say, even with adding two all-stars, if Philadelphia didn’t get Bryce, they’d be falling behind. That’s how much of an arms race it is.

So they got him and sent a message to every guy in the clubhouse that it’s go time. And when it’s go time, you grab your blinged out banana hammock and start sweeping. Apparently.

But there’s something else on that Harper contract. 

Just for perspective on the length of that contract - most of the guys he’ll be playing with at the end of the deal are 13 years old now. There’s a chance he’ll have teammates at the end of his contract who haven’t even started Little League yet. Shoot, there may even be teammates who haven’t started playing baseball. That’s how long that contract is. 

Because here’s the best part of that deal for Philadelphia. Not to get all Excel spreadsheet on you, but the annual average salary will be $25.4 million. That means they’re still roughly 50 mill below the luxury tax. 

I know, I’m talking average salaries and luxury tax thresholds. I know, compelling, thrilling, exciting crap right?

But you know what’s even more exciting than average salaries, luxury tax thresholds, and having space in your budget? Using that money. 

And Philadelphia is already thinking about using that money on Mike Trout. 

Talk about playing chess. There's nothing more insane than signing one MVP and a future Hall of Famer and already thinking about signing the next one.

And they have a shot with Trout. They have more than a shot with the guy from South Jersey. The noted Philadelphia sports fan. The guy who went to high school about 40 miles from Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. 

You know what’s better than having Bryce Harper in your outfield? Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in your outfield. The guy who might be the next Mickey Mantle and the guy who actually is the next Mickey Mantle. Is that any good?

If the price for Harper was 330, the price for Trout might be 400. And the Phillies have the space for it. That wouldn’t be stupid money that would be awesome money.  Genius money.  And if they can get both those guys, in the same outfield, hell, I’d pay whatever it costs to see it.