It took well into spring training games for a deal to get done, but Bryce Harper finally has a team. According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies agreed to sign the superstar outfielder. Harper received a 13-year, $330 million contract, per Jeff Passan. That breaks the record for the largest deal in baseball history, one previously held by Giancarlo Stanton.
Harper, 26, hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs last season. He turned it on in the second half, however, managing a 159 wRC+ following the All-Star break. The outfielder also has an MVP to his name, earned following a Ruthian campaign in 2015 that saw him put up a 197 wRC+. Some teams and fans have knocked his defense, or called his bat overrated, but it’s hard to deny that he sits in the upper-echelon of baseball talent.
The Yankees never expressed any interest in Harper, and that proved rather surprising. The team built their reputation on pursuing the best players available, but have shied away from that strategy in recent years. This year’s free agency makes that crystal clear. “The Harper stuff,” Brian Cashman said incredulously to reporters at the Winter Meetings, “I’m surprised you’re still asking.” The Yankees general manager apparently was not bluffing.
While a number of key free agents remain unsigned — namely Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel — this should finish the Yankees’ offseason storylines. There always lingered the idea of a surprise push a la Mark Teixeira in December 2008, but evidently not.