Harper Inks Record Contract with Phillies

The months long speculation over where free agent outfielder Bryce Harper will be playing in 2019 and beyond came to an end when Harper agreed to a 13-year, $330 million. 

Harper’s contract was unusual for many reasons. First, it has no opt-out clauses. These options have become a standard part of player contracts in every sport. They’re particularly used in long-term deals either as a player option, a team option or both. The record-setting deal also provides Harper with a full no-trade clause. 

Of course this doesn’t mean that Harper can’t, or won’t, leave the Phillies before the contract is set to expire after the 2031 season. But it does indicate that Harper seems sincere in his desire to find a city to build roots. Harper, who had not been heard from throughout the process, spoke about his desire for a long-term contract in his opening press conference at the Phillies facility in Clearwater, Florida. 

“It’s good to feel wanted by the Phillies organization and the fan base. I love my family very much and Philly is going to be part of that family for a long time,” said Harper. “I wanted to be somewhere for a long period of time, and I wanted to finish my career somewhere.” 

According to numerous sources, Harper – not the Phillies – requested to have opt-outs removed from the contract. “I wanted to be able to dig my roots somewhere,” said Harper. “Through the ups and downs of the organization … Even through the bumps and bruises … I want to be a part of that.”

And now he will be. The Phillies edged out a reported 12-year, $310 million offer that Harper received from the San Francisco Giants as well as another, shorter length contract offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers that would have paid Harper a record amount for average annual value (AAV) – a metric now becoming common in MLB contracts.

Although Harper is by far the biggest free agent signed by the Phillies, he is not the only one. The team has added outfielder Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto. Those three, in addition to Harper will likely be the top four hitters on the lineup card of manager Gabe Kapler. 

Harper’s career slash line is .279/.388/.512 and 184 home runs. He has a cumulative 27.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in his seven big league seasons. At Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies, Harper has put up numbers that align well with his career numbers .268/.365/.564.