According to multiple reporters this afternoon, Bryce Harper is signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, joining the Washington Nationals’ NL East rivals after seven seasons in D.C. in which the 2010 No. 1 overall pick put up a combined .279/.388/.512 line and a 162-game average of 32 doubles and 32 home runs.
It’s reportedly a 13-year/$330M deal. 13. $330M. No opt-outs. 13. $330M. 13. You get it...
Even before Managing Principal owner Mark D. Lerner said this winter that it seemed Harper and the Nationals were moving on from one another, after the Nats’ 2010 No. 1 overall pick turned down a 10-year/$300M offer towards the end of the regular season, it seemed likely the 26-year-old outfielder would find a new home this winter.
After Harper turned down that offer, and hit the market, the Nationals continued to say that the door was open for a potential return, however, though more recently they all stopped commenting on the fact that the one-time NL MVP remained unsigned even as the start of Spring Training arrived.
“I can’t really think about the free agents,” Davey Martinez told a reporter who’d asked about Harper and other remaining free agents (but really about Harper) earlier this month, in one of Martinez’s first press conferences of the Spring.
“I’ve got 58 guys in camp that I’ve got to worry about and get them ready for the season,” he continued, “but with that being said, there are some really good players still available.
“So hopefully they get a job soon, but my focus is on the guys we have in camp.”
Martinez was asked if it was weird not to have a locker in the clubhouse for Harper in West Palm Beach, FL.
“It’s definitely different,” the second-year skipper said.
“He’s an unbelievable player and I built this really good relationship with Bryce and I wish him all the best, I really do, regardless of what happens, I will always wish him the best.”
GM Mike Rizzo wasn’t interested in entertaining Harper questions either, apparently, when he was asked for his thoughts at an MLB event a few weeks back.
“We’re going to talk about the players we have on the team,” Rizzo told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty on Twitter.
“We’re not going to talk about players that we don’t have on the team.”
Rizzo explained, as quoted in a New York Times’ article by Tyler Kepner, that the Nationals let Harper know they wanted him to stay towards the end of the regular season when they offered that rumored ten-year deal at $30M per.
“We made it clear to him he was loved here and we wanted him to stay here,” Rizzo said.
“We felt that since he’s our player, we have this window to figure out if we can get a deal done. But we also had to put an expiration date on it, because how do you do other business if you don’t have an expiration date on that offer?
“That doesn’t mean that we can’t circle back and do something another time — including now — but we felt that Harp was our primary goal, and we had a strategy and a plan put together to make him a good, fair offer ... but we felt that the expiration date on that was as important, because once free agency started, we had to be able to go out and look at other avenues with the mind-set that we could always circle back if we had to.”
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office addressed their rotation needs, signing Patrick Corbin to a 6-year/$140M deal, veteran Aníbal Sánchez to a 2-year/$19M deal, and Jeremy Hellickson for 1-year/$1.3M, added to the bullpen with Kyle Barraclough (acquired via trade from the Miami Marlins) and Trevor Rosenthal (1-year/$7M), solidified their catching corps by signing Kurt Suzuki (2-years/$10M) and trading for Yan Gomes, and brought back Matt Adams to back up at first (1-year/$4M), while also signing Brian Dozier (1-year/$9M) to play second.
“Clearly, we didn’t sit around, we went after the guys we thought could help us this year and we got those guys, and it was a lot of fun,” Martinez said this month.
“This winter we had a lot of fun trying to put together rosters,” he continued, “and which guys were available, which guys we could possibly get, and coming into Spring Training and seeing the guys that we have, man, I’m super-excited.”
Just last week, in his most-recent comments on the possibility of Harper returning to the nation’s capital, Mr. Lerner once again stressed that he thought the outfielder would find somewhere new to play.
“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end; we’ve moved on, as I said back then,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington. “We had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure, will make his decision, hopefully in the next few days. But, we filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best. There’s always that -- the door’s cracked a little bit. I have no clue at this point what they’re up to. I mean, we really haven’t heard from them in a couple months.”
It took a little longer than a few days for the final decision, but Harper’s apparently decided to sign in the City of Brotherly Love.
Will the Nationals regret letting Harper get away? Are you surprised the Phillies were willing to go to 13 years? More surprised there are reportedly no opt-outs in the deal? Will you boo Harper the first time he returns to Nationals Park ... or cheer him once ... and then boo him?