Bryce Harper is set to spend his career with the Phillies
The wait is finally over; baseball's biggest free agent fish is finally off the board. On Thursday Bryce Harper signed a 13 year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies worth $330 million, a deal that will pay him a little over $25 million per season.
It's a bit of a surprising number when you consider both the term and the AAV of the contract. For one thing, at 26 years old, this deal will run until Bryce either turns 39 or he decides to retire (which given Bryce's injury troubles it's more than likely he doesn't play until 39). Typically, on a deal of this length, you would expect some sort of opt out clause for either the team or the player.
The fact that the clause doesn't exist seems strange to me for two reasons. First of all, given the rate that the average contract is increasing, there is no doubt in my mind that in four years Bryce could make much more than he is currently making if he chose to opt out. Secondly, there is zero guarantee that the Phillies don't fall apart at some point during Bryce's tenure in Philadelphia.
I'm sticking to my guns in saying that Philadelphia will contend for the NL East division title this season if everyone stays healthy. On the flip side, with the inconsistency of Maikel Franco, the probable declines of Andrew McCutchen and Jake Arrieta imminent, the lack of rotational depth, and the fact that you really don't know what Rhys Hoskins can be, there's always a serious chance that this team falls apart rather quickly.
Without an opt out clause in this contract, it's possible that Bryce spends the next 13 years playing for a sub par team that relies solely on him for success. If a situation like this arises, you would expect Bryce to be traded for a ton of prospects the other way right? Well Bryce and agent Scott Boras made sure that wasn't a thing by including a no trade clause throughout the duration of the deal.
On one hand, it's great for Phillies fans that Harper's loyalty to the franchise can never be called into question. On the other hand, as a big fan of Bryce Harper and his style of play, I would hate to see him locked down to a team that can't find any success in the near future.
The bottom line is that Bryce was offered numerous deals from many different teams around the league and this is the one that he decided on. No matter how strange the numbers seem, it is a deal that very clearly looks great for the Phillies for a long time. More importantly, it is one that Bryce Harper can look at for the rest of his career and never have to deal with these conversations ever again. It'll be strange to see his caveman beard and flowing locks in Phillies pinstripes, but it's great to finally have this whole thing over and done with.