Bryce Harper, Phillies need a few World Series rings to call this contract a success come 2031 | Bob Brookover
It's 2031 and Bryce Harper has reached the end of his 13-year contract with the Phillies. There's a list of things that must happen in order for it to be a success for the Phillies.
The nice thing about being a player and an agent is that when you sign a 13-year contract worth $330 million you are absolutely, positively sure that it is a good deal. Money might not be everything, but it has to provide some peace of mind to know that your great-grandkid’s great-grandkids are going to be financially secure.
The team, on the other hand, has to wait and see before it can declare a 13-year deal worth $330 million a success.
So with that in mind, let’s jump into our time machine, turn the year to 2031, and see how things are going for 39-year-old Bryce Harper and 76-year-old John Middleton, the team’s ultra-competitive owner who had a ravenous appetite for another World Series title when he signed the superstar outfielder in 2019.
Both Harper and Middleton still appear to be in remarkable shape for their respective ages, and it’s always great to see them roll up to recently renovated Citizens Bank Park in their self-driving Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari. Harper and teammate Mike Trout have become best friends, just as we all expected when the Millville native signed with the Phillies after the 2020 season. Trout is forever grateful to Harper for recruiting Le’Veon Bell to the Eagles, especially since the star running back helped Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson win two more Super Bowls.
We can’t believe that Phillies manager Jimmy Rollins has benched 31-year-old shortstop Luis Garcia for failing to run out a pop-up, but that’s another story for another day. The analytics department is bigger than ever even though the machines they are working on are smaller than ever.
But that’s not why we are here in the future. We are here to find out how the Harper deal has worked out for the Phillies.
All right, enough. We plead guilty to fake news. The Inquirer/Daily News/philly.com operation does not actually have a time machine because time machines do not exist and even if they did they’d cost more than a 13-year Bryce Harper contract.
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So that leaves us with the difficult task of speculating about what a good Bryce Harper contract could look like for the Phillies when the deal is complete. General manager Matt Klentak has said in the past that most long-term deals do not look so good near the end of them. And this one, of course, matches Giancarlo Stanton’s as the longest deal in big-league history.
The starting point for a deal of this magnitude to be a good one has to be at least one World Series title. Win just one during Harper’s 13 seasons here and it will at the very least create a lasting memory for a franchise that does not have a lot of them.
New York Yankees fans might tell you that the 10-year deal Alex Rodriguez signed in December 2007 was a disaster, and, in one sense, they are right. The grief he caused the Yankees and their fans as baseball investigated his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida was unforgivable and unforgettable.
On the other hand, do the Yankees win the 2009 World Series without A-Rod? Are their fans willing to forfeit the team’s 27th title because they had a proven PED user on their side? I think not, and that can be the basis for arguing that the A-Rod deal was a good one for the Yankees even though it ended badly.
For it to be a great deal, the Phillies need to match the two World Series titles the franchise won in its first 136 years and they need to be pennant contenders at least a half-dozen times. As Harper knows from his time with the Nationals, there is some luck involved once you get to the postseason. But the more chances you have, the better chance you have for that luck to come out on your side.
» DAVID MURPHY: Bryce Harper’s price tag was anything but stupid for the Phillies
Harper’s deal will also be a good one if he continues to hit at least as well as he did during his first seven big-league seasons. The hope is that he is just entering his prime, a reasonable expectation for a 26-year-old player. Harper has averaged 32 doubles and 32 home runs and has a career .900 OPS.
Do that for the next eight years and everybody should be happy. Do more and everybody should be ecstatic.
The buzz around baseball these days is that the National League will also eventually adopt the designated-hitter rule, which will only help Harper and every other quality hitter when they get to age 30 and beyond.
We might not have a time machine and we cannot promise that Le’Veon Bell is coming to the Eagles and Mike Trout will one day be a Phillie. But if I were in the business of predicting the future, I’d put my money on Bryce Harper’s having a positive impact around here well into the next decade.
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