Phillies

The complete timeline of Phillies' path to Signing Harper

The complete timeline of Phillies' path to Signing Harper

Phillies fans will never forget this offseason. Two surprising and impressive trades, a couple big signings of veterans, and the long, winding, ultimately successful path to bringing Bryce Harper aboard.

On Tuesday at 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia premieres "Signing Harper," a one-hour documentary focusing on the behind-the-scenes process for the Phillies to land their man. There will be exclusive interviews with Harper, his agent Scott Boras, Phillies managing partner John Middleton and his wife Leigh, and more.

The path to Harper wasn't easy. Free agency opened on Oct. 29 and Harper agreed to his deal with the Phillies on Feb. 28. Four whole months of false starts and social media sleuthing from information-starved fans. Harper knew all along the process would likely linger into February or March.

Let's take a look back:

September 2018 — Nats make an offer

The Nationals reportedly offer Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract, which he rejects. The deal, Harper would later say, included $100 million in deferred money that he'd receive at age 65. 

Deferalls are nothing new to the Nationals, who have used them in the contracts for Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin and even on a one-year deal for Brian Dozier this winter.

It never made sense for Harper to forgo free agency and the bidding war that would ensue.

Oct. 29 — The market opens

Free agency begins — three words that mean a lot less in baseball than in basketball and football. The absence of a salary cap or salary floor in MLB causes players to linger on the open market. At least a dozen teams had no interest in spending this winter, and some of the most aggressive pursuers of Harper and Manny Machado did not emerge until the end.

Nov. 16 — "Stupid money"

Middleton tells USA Today that the Phillies are "expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."

The quote goes viral and is repeated on Philadelphia airwaves every day for nearly four months.

In the end, the exorbitant sum of money was spent in a shrewd way.

Dec. 11 — McCutchen gets paid

The Phillies sign Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million contract, beginning the process of reworking their outfield. Was it more than most anticipated McCutchen would receive? Yes. Looking at this offseason retrospectively, it was a necessary move. The Phils could have gone with Michael Brantley on a two-year deal closer to $30 million, but there is a case to be made that McCutchen fits this team better because he's substantially more durable.

Dec. 3 — Phillies acquire Segura

Out of nowhere, the Phillies ship Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford off to Seattle in exchange for Jean Segura and relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos.

In one fell swoop, Phils GM Matt Klentak turned two weaknesses — shortstop and the non-fit of Rhys Hoskins in left field — into a strength. Maybe someday Crawford will pan out in the big leagues. He will open 2019 in the Mariners' minor-league system. There is no question Segura is the better hitter and defender at this point, and at 29, Segura fits well into the Phillies' timeline to contend.

Dec. 11 — Phils meet with Boras

The Phillies meet with Boras to discuss Harper and Zach Britton. The Phillies had interest in Britton in the summer of 2018 as well but he went to the Yankees both times.

Dec. 20 — Machado makes his visit

The Phillies host Manny Machado, initially believed to be their on-field preference over Harper, for a visit. A construction worker yells at Machado to "Do the right thing and sign!"

Machado leaves Philly without a contract and takes two more months to make his decision.

Jan. 7 — Phillies set meeting with Harper

The Phillies firm up their meeting with Harper, which takes place five days later in Las Vegas. No offer is made ... yet.

Jan. 29 — Does Vegas know something?

The Phillies' World Series odds are changed to 12/1, fifth-shortest in MLB and a surprising figure for a team coming off an 80-win season. Fans speculate that Vegas has to know something.

In reality, betting sites were protecting themselves by making the Phils' odds so short, in case they did land Harper or Machado. 

Feb. 7 — Phillies make a huge trade

Acquiring J.T. Realmuto would be the top move for almost every other team in baseball this offseason. It turned out not to be for the Phillies, who acquired the best catcher in baseball exactly three weeks before agreeing to their deal with Harper.

Jorge Alfaro and top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez were shipped to the Marlins for the All-Star catcher. Realmuto will bat fifth for the Phillies and has a chance to do things at the plate he couldn't in Miami, where the ballpark is cavernous and the lineup protection was nonexistent.

Feb. 19 — Machado mania ends

Machado signs a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, who did not emerge as a serious player for him until mid-January.

There is reason to believe that members of the Phillies' front office preferred Machado over Harper at one point, but that shifted as the offseason wore on and Phillies people saw how much the fanbase preferred Harper and how much of an economic boost Harper would provide over Machado.

Feb. 22 — Nats close the door on Harper

Nats owner Mark Lerner says on NBC Sports Washington that the Nationals have "moved on" from Harper, removing one major threat for the Phillies.

"We've moved on. We had to," Lerner said. "There was no way we could wait around. ... We've filled out our roster."

Feb. 22 — Air Middleton lands in Vegas again

Middleton meets with Harper and Boras a second time. Middleton's wife, Leigh, and Harper's wife, Kayla, are present. No deal is struck, but the right impression is made on both sides.

Feb. 25 — Have Phillies lost Harper sweepstakes?

Tension grips Phillies camp as their lead in the race for Harper appears to shrink with the Dodgers and Giants negotiating with Harper in a meaningful way.

All along, it was assumed that Harper would prefer one of the California teams because of the short trips between his Vegas home, spring training in Arizona and the regular season in Cali. 

All along, most misread Harper's priorities. Geography and opt-outs didn't matter nearly as much as the baseball world believed.

Feb. 28 — It finally happens

A historic end to the month of February for the Phillies, who reach a 13-year, $330 million contract with Harper.

The total money was on par with expectations but the years were not. The shocking 13-year deal pays Harper an average of $25.38 million per year, more money than he'll ever be able to spend but not enough annually to prohibit the Phils from making necessary signings and extensions in the years to come.

March 1 — Inside the negotiations

Jim Salisbury takes us inside the Phillies' negotiation process with Harper, which included a 15-year offer, a short contract at an astronomical price and more. Some incredible details here.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Gabe Kapler takes blame for Phillies' loss, but Bryce Harper says, no, it's on him

Gabe Kapler takes blame for Phillies' loss, but Bryce Harper says, no, it's on him

There were some really entertaining moments for Phillies fans in Thursday night’s game.

To wit:

J.T. Realmuto battled through a 16-pitch at-bat in the first inning and fouled off 10 straight pitches. The crowd loved it and gave Realmuto a loud ovation even after he struck out.

And then, in a tie game in the top of the ninth inning, Nick Williams made one of the strongest and prettiest throws you’ll ever see to cut down a run from left field and give the Phillies life heading into the bottom of the ninth. Williams' throw registered at 95.5 mph, according to Statcast. To put that in perspective, neither starting pitcher threw a pitch that hard in a combined 12 2/3 innings.

But Realmuto’s grueling at-bat and Williams’ eye-popping hose work were merely footnotes to what turned out to be another bad night at the yard for the Phillies. Their 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park was their sixth defeat in the last eight games (see observations). After coming out of the gate with an 11-6 record and getting everybody pumped up, the Phils are now 13-12.

Manager Gabe Kapler wore this defeat for his decision to use reliever Hector Neris for a second inning of work. Neris, with significant help from Williams, got out of the ninth without giving up a run. He went back for the 10th and twice was one strike away from getting out of that inning. But he gave up a two-out double to Neil Walker on a 2-2 pitch then a two-run homer to Starlin Castro on a 2-2 pitch. Walker hit a splitter, Castro a fastball.

“I didn’t put Hector in the position to succeed right there,” Kapler said. “He’s been so good all year. I really wanted to lean on him. That’s on me. I trusted him and really wanted him to get through that second inning for us and felt really confident in him. But I knew what was best for Hector was to get him out after that first inning of work. That one is on me.

“I thought he was strong. He did a really good job getting through that first inning for us. At the same time, that was asking a lot from him and putting a lot of responsibility on him. I think I could’ve went to (Edubray) Ramos there and Ramos would’ve done a very nice job for us.”

As much as Kapler tried to take the blame, he was far from the engineer of this loss.

This one was on the offense. Aaron Nola pitched well in a duel against lefty Caleb Smith. Adam Morgan got another huge out. Seranthony Dominguez pitched around trouble and delivered a scoreless inning. So much lined up for the Phillies — if they only could have gotten a big hit.

This game was theirs to be had in the sixth inning. Andrew McCutchen led off with a double and moved to third on a fly ball by Realmuto. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins then both popped up against the stingy Smith to end the threat.

An inning later, Cesar Hernandez doubled with one out and died on second when Sean Rodriguez and Williams struck out.

That's 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.

Like Kapler, Harper raised his hand and took blame for the loss.

“It’s on me,” he said. “With a guy at third base, less than two outs, I’ve got to get that job done. We wouldn’t be in that predicament in that situation — Hector throws a scoreless one like he’s supposed to and we’re out of there. So I’ve got to be better personally. Guy on third, less than two outs, I’ve got to get the job done.”

Harper is 10 for 51 (.196) over his last 13 games and five of those hits came in one game last week in Denver.

But he wasn’t the only hitter who did not come through Thursday night. The Phils had just four hits. Their Nos. 2 through 5 hitters were 0 for 15 with a walk.

“There’s no question our lineup hasn’t been clicking like it can,” Kapler said. “We’ve been pretty beat up by injuries, but that’s no excuse. We can perform better at the plate.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Marlins 3, Phillies 1 (10 innings): This one is on the offense

Marlins 3, Phillies 1 (10 innings): This one is on the offense

BOX SCORE

This one is on the offense. The Phillies were held to just four hits in suffering a 3-1 loss in 10 innings to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Starlin Castro broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run home run against Hector Neris in the top of the 10th to propel the Marlins to victory.

The Phillies’ Nos. 2 through 5 hitters went 0 for 15 with a walk.

With a chance to take control of the game, the Phils went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.

The Phillies are now 13-12. They have lost six of their last eight.

Miami is 8-17.

The Phils are 2-2 against Miami.

The keys

• Nick Williams, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and stayed in to play left field, made what at the time was a game-saving throw to cut down a run at the plate and end the top of the ninth inning. Williams' perfect throw came in at 95.5 mph.

• Williams’ throw bailed out Hector Neris. Neris gave up a two-out double and a two-out homer in the 10th as the Marlins took the lead.

• Adam Morgan relieved Aaron Nola with two outs and runners on the corners in a tie game in the seventh. He retired pinch-hitter Isaac Galloway for one of the game’s biggest outs. Morgan has not given up a run in 10 1/3 innings (13 games) this season.

Starting pitching rules

Nola, who showed signs of putting it together in his previous start at Colorado, was very good in this one. He allowed just a run over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits, all singles, walked one and struck out four.

Miami lefty Caleb Smith was also very good, holding the Phillies to three hits and a run over six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Smith allowed a second-inning homer to Sean Rodriguez for the Phillies' lone run.

Sights and sounds

Though J.T. Realmuto did not get a hit in the first inning, he provided some entertainment for the crowd as he battled Miami lefty Smith through a fairly incredible 16-pitch at-bat. Realmuto fouled off 10 straight pitches before ultimately striking out, but the crowd appreciated the duel. The cheers became louder with each ball Realmuto fouled off and he received a loud ovation while walking back to the dugout at Smith prevailed.

Health check

Another injury for Roman Quinn. What it means for the Phillies’ outfield picture (see story).

Up next

Jerad Eickhoff makes his first home start of the season Friday night against Marlins’ right-hander Jose Urena.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies