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Predicting Bryce Harper's contract with Phillies

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 08, 2018 - 9:22 am

Signs are starting to point to the Phillies landing one of the biggest free agents in MLB history, Bryce Harper. 

Landing Harper would change everything for the Phillies. It will give them one of the best and more productive players in the game. It would give them one of the biggest stars in the game. It would send a clear message to the city of Philadelphia -- they are ready to win right now. 

It is not a message, however, that is going to be cheap. 

What Harper's contract is going to look like has been a question that has been wondered by many for the last year. Harper, at 26-years old, is hitting free agency at just the right time. His perfect combination of upside and already impressive resume gives him the argument for the biggest contract in baseball. 

According to one report, Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Washington Nationals. What was especially impressive about the deal was that it reportedly didn't include any ability to opt-out from the Nationals -- meaning Harper would get the full $300 million. The contract did not match the $325 million that the Miami Marlins gave Giancarlo Stanton in 2014, however, which is likely why Harper turned it down. 

So what is Harper going to be looking for?

The simple answer is the biggest contract in MLB history. That means more than the $325 million that Stanton got, and likely considerably more. That contract was signed in 2014, and as is the case in every sport, numbers go up as the years go on. Top talent in 2018 is worth more than it was in 2014.

The good news for the Phillies is that they might be bidding against only a few teams, and perhaps none as attractive as the Phillies. Recent reports suggest that the Yankees, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants might not be interested, and that Harper himself might not be interested in the St. Louis Cardinals. That takes away some of the biggest spenders in baseball. It could be that the Phillies end up competing with only the Nationals, who have already made one massive offer that was shut down. 

If the Phillies decided to make an offer that topped Stanton, they could top the Nationals' offer and top Stanton's contract by offering a deal worth $330 million over 10 years. That would give Harper a higher total and a higher yearly average than Stanton's deal. Stanton's contract is over 13 seasons and has an average salary of $25 million. A 10-year, $330 million offer from the Phillies would give Harper a $33 million average salary, a considerable jump over Stanton's average. 

That $33 million average would, however, fall slightly short of the $34.1 million that Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zach Greinke makes. If the Phillies were willing to go to $330 million, they would then just need to up their offer $350 million to top both Stanton's total and Greinke's average. 

That would fall short of the $400 million some have projected Harper would get. Another team jumping in at the last minute and deciding to break the bank for Harper should never be ruled out. A bidding war could get Harper to his $400 million very quickly. 

Based off of where things seem to stand right now, however, it sure seems like the Phillies might be able to land Harper for right around 10-years, $350 million -- with no opt-outs. 

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