Phillies

How the Phillies closed the deal and made themselves the perfect fit for Bryce Harper

How the Phillies closed the deal and made themselves the perfect fit for Bryce Harper

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Despite how commonplace opt-out clauses have become in superstar contracts in recent years, Bryce Harper did not want one, agent Scott Boras told NBC Sports Philadelphia moments after Harper's agreement with the Phillies.

Harper wanted to be in one city the rest of his career and prioritized a long-term deal that would keep him in one place, similar to Tom Brady.

His 13-year, $330M contract contains a full no-trade clause.

Harper also prioritized a hitter-friendly ballpark and Citizens Bank Park certainly fits that description.

Phillies managing partner John Middleton traveled to Las Vegas last weekend to express his long-term vision to Harper. Franchise direction and commitment to winning was important to Harper, according to Boras. Middleton's wife, Leigh, joined Harper and his wife Kayla at dinner and stressed things like community, family and the Phillies' long history of charitable work.

While Los Angeles might have been the storybook destination for Harper because of its proximity to his hometown and his Hollywood persona, Harper never had an aversion to playing in Philadelphia if the money and length of contract was right. And it was.

Harper will earn just over $25 million annually, similar to Cliff Lee's free-agent deal with the Phillies in the winter of 2010. Lee battled injuries in his last few years and didn't even pitch in 2015, the last season of his contract.

Harper is still 26 and has a lot of prime years left. With the length of this contract and the possibility of the designated hitter coming to the National League in future seasons, he'd have a good landing spot if defense becomes a challenge. He wants to play into his 40s.

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Phillies add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Phillies add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Three weeks before the start of spring training, the Phillies were busy Wednesday finalizing minor-league contracts with three pitchers and a utility infielder.

The team announced the signings of veteran relievers Drew Storen, Bud Norris and Francisco Liriano, as well as veteran infielder Neil Walker.

Of the group, Liriano, 36, might have the best chance to impact the 2020 Phillies. The left-hander, a starter for the bulk of his major-league career, was used exclusively as a reliever with Pittsburgh last season. He pitched in 69 games and recorded an ERA of 3.47 over 70 innings. Liriano was particularly effective against lefty hitters, holding them to a .194 batting average (14 for 72.)

Storen, 32, and Norris, 34, are both right-handers with significant big-league time. Neither pitched in the majors last season because of health reasons. Storen was recovering from Tommy John surgery and Norris had a forearm injury. There are opportunities in the Phillies’ bullpen and both will be given a look in spring training.

Walker, 34, is an 11-year veteran who has spent much of his career as a regular second baseman, mostly with Pittsburgh. He has bounced around the diamond in recent seasons, particularly with the New York Yankees in 2018, where he played first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. He played first, second and third with the Miami Marlins last season and hit .261 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 337 at-bats.

Walker, a switch-hitter, will vie for a spot as a reserve with the Phillies. Rosters expand from 25 to 26 men this season and that will allow the Phillies to carry an extra player on their bench. There are plenty of candidates for that job. Earlier this winter, the Phillies signed veteran infielders Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin and Ronald Torreyes to minor-league deals. The team is also bringing veteran outfielders Matt Szczur and Mikie Mahtook to big-league camp on minor-league deals. The competition for a spot as a reserve outfielder will also include Nick Williams and Nick Martini, both of whom are on the 40-man roster.

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Phillies agree to deal with Francisco Liriano

Phillies agree to deal with Francisco Liriano

After months of inactivity in the bullpen, the Phillies have added three relievers in two days. The latest signing is of left-hander Francisco Liriano. It's a minor-league deal in which Liriano will earn $1.5 million if he makes the team, with up to $1.25 million in incentives, according to Robert Murray.

Liriano is better than the pair of pitchers the Phillies agreed to minor-league deals with earlier this week: Drew Storen and Bud Norris. Those two didn't pitch at all in the majors in 2019.

Liriano, though, was effective in 2019. He had a 3.47 ERA in 69 appearances with the Pirates. Control has always been an issue dating back to his early days with the Twins, whether Liriano has been a starter or reliever. He has walked 4.9 batters per nine innings over the last three seasons.

Still, Liriano has the potential to be a solid left-handed weapon in the Phils' 'pen, and perhaps a spot starter in a pinch. Lefties were just 29 for 160 (.181) against Liriano the last two seasons.

If he makes the team, it would give the Phillies three left-handed relief options in Liriano, Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez. Morgan can face hitters from both sides but Alvarez is a lefty specialist. Alvarez, who had a 3.36 ERA in 59 innings, was one of the Phillies' unsung players in 2019.

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