The final shoe of 2019 MLB free agency finally has dropped.
Bryce Harper reportedly agreed to a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, and it's a doozy: $330 million over 13 years with no opt-outs and a no-trade clause, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
To recap, here are the three massive contracts MLB players have signed or reportedly agreed to in the last week:
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres: 10 years, $300 million ($30 million per year)
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: 8 years, $260 million ($32.5 million per year)
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies: 13 years, $330 million ($25.4 million per year)
While Harper's reported deal has a (relatively) modest average annual value, it's the richest contract in MLB history based on total amount.
Ranking Bryce Harper’s 13 year, $330M deal w/ the #Phillies— Spotrac (@spotrac) February 28, 2019
13 Years: 1st in MLB HIstory
$330M: 1st in MLB History
$25.4M AAV: 13th in MLB History
Clearly being in one place for the rest of his career was of utmost important to Harper.
Boston Red Sox fans know where we're going with this: Mookie Betts is set to back up multiple Brinks trucks two years from now.
Betts will hit unrestricted free agency in 2021. And if a 26-year-old outfielder who hit .249 last season can fetch $330 million, how much is a 26-year-old outfielder who just won the American League MVP award worth?
Machado, Arenado and Harper boast better power numbers than Betts — each player topped 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2018 — but Betts isn't far behind in that department (87 home runs and 295 RBIs over the last three seasons).
He's also the most well-rounded player of the group, leading MLB in 2018 with a 10.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) while posting an MLB-best .346 batting average (97 points better than Harper's) and winning a third consecutive Gold Glove award in right field. Aside from Mike Trout, you could argue Betts is the best position player in baseball right now.
That's all to say Betts deserves to break Harper's record as baseball's highest-paid player. The three-time All-Star would be well within his right to start negotiations at $350 million for 10 years. If he seeks an even longer deal, Betts easily could become the first $400 million man in baseball.
Would Boston be the team offering Betts that record-breaking deal? The superstar outfielder seems committed to the Red Sox for now and is fresh off a World Series title. Sox ownership also seems committed to keeping its best player around. But the more Betts' price tag rises, the more uncertain his future could become.
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