Cubs

Presented By Cubs Insiders
Cubs

Bryce Harper set the baseball world aflame Thursday afternoon when he agreed to a record-setting $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

It's a 13-year deal, which means Harper's average annual salary is about $25.3 million. 

No American athlete has signed a deal worth more overall money and it will certainly have an impact on the landscape of future baseball contracts.

Will anybody ever sign a 13-year deal again? Will any team commit $330 million to one player again or will baseball owners continue to make a concerted effort to bring overall baseball salaries down?

And if Harper got that much in 2019, how much will baseball's other stars be worth in future winters?

Will Mike Trout get $400 million when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season? What about Mookie Betts the same winter?

The Cubs have some big-time free agents coming up after the 2021 campaign in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez. Will any of them fetch more than $330 million?

At the moment, Bryant probably has the highest potential to come near Harper's total value, but it still seems pretty unlikely. 

Bryant is right up there with Harper and Manny Machado in terms of baseball's elite players, but the main difference is the latter two stars were only 26 during free agency this winter. Bryant, meanwhile, is already 27 and he will turn 30 during the midst of his free agency tour (his birthday is Jan. 4). 

 

It's pretty tough to see any MLB team giving a 30-year-old a 13-year contract but hey, crazier things have happened. 

Maybe inflation will go up enough in the next 3 years to the point where some team would give Bryant $330 million (or more) over 8-10 years instead of 13. Right now, it seems the most likely way Bryant would approach a $330 million contract is if he signs an extension with the Cubs before hitting free agency and adds another season or two to the deal in place of arbitration years.

He reportedly said this week he's open to listening about an extension with the Cubs, but don't bet on that happening. Harper's agent — Scott Boras — also represents Bryant and it's Boras' policy for his stars to hit the open market.

However, Bryant does have a few factors working in his favor.

For starters, maybe $330 million will be a lot more commonplace around the game in 3 years. It would've been tough to believe back on Feb. 28, 2016, that Harper and Machado would actually sign for $630 million combined. 

Secondly, Bryant will be a free agent right at the time where the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be re-negotiated with the league. It's possible the changes to the CBA could mean more money pouring back into rosters (or it's possible Bryant will be a free agent in the midst of a strike).

Also, Bryant may still be playing a more premium position by the time he's a free agent. Harper signed as a corner outfielder who carries defensive question marks while Bryant has been a valuable defender throughout his career while playing mostly third base (though he's also played a good amount of outfield). 

Bryant also might hit the market as a *better* overall player than Harper (even if he'll be 4 years older). 

Over his first 4 years in the big leagues, Bryant has been worth 21.6 WAR (Baseball Reference) and 23.1 WAR (FanGraphs) while Harper was worth only 19.9 bWAR and 19.4 fWAR. 

Ultimately, this is all just pure speculation and Bryant is still years away from free agency. But the market's set and we have a more accurate picture of the type of deal Bryant may be looking for.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.