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 and Nationals postponed for second straight night

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Phillies and Nationals postponed for second straight night

Here we go again.

After a rain delay of about two hours, the Phillies and Nationals have been rained out for a second straight night. Tonight’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Sept. 24.

After nearly three hours of waiting on Monday, the series opener was postponed and scheduled to be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Wednesday (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.), but Tuesday’s postponement will cause even more issues for both teams.

Different from Monday, there was steady rain falling throughout the night and, perhaps, with a day game on Wednesday, it got too late to give this one a go. The Phillies have announced that Zach Eflin will start game one and Jake Arrieta will start game two. It appears Patrick Corbin will try again for Washington, however the Nationals may be searching for a second starter after a freak accident during batting practice resulted in a broken nose for their ace, Max Scherzer, whose status is TBD. (see video)

While a doubleheader is difficult from a pitching standpoint, the Phillies will welcome two extra days for J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce to mend. Not in the posted lineup for either of the games that were postponed due to rain, Gabe Kapler did indicate that Realmuto would start one game on Wednesday and Bruce was available to pinch hit on Tuesday if needed.

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

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Phillies need a 5th and 6th starter this weekend; who could it be?

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consecutive rainouts Monday and Tuesday benefited the Phillies by giving J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce two additional days to recover from their injuries. Had the Phils played Tuesday night, both players would have been available to pinch-hit but would have likely needed pinch-runners. Realmuto will start one game of the Phillies’ day-night doubleheader Wednesday. 

Where it negatively affected the Phillies is in the starting rotation. The Phils don’t have a true No. 5 starter right now. Gabe Kapler said Monday that there is a belief within the organization that Vince Velasquez can fill that role, but it’s not a certainty that he’s returned to the rotation. If Velasquez is needed out of the bullpen Thursday or Friday, for example, he may not get the start Saturday. It’s TBD. 

And now, because the Phillies play twice on Wednesday, they’ll also need a starter for Sunday’s game. In effect, a team with no fifth starter needs a fifth and sixth starter this weekend. 

On Wednesday, it will be Zach Eflin in Game 1 and Jake Arrieta in Game 2. 

Nick Pivetta pitches Thursday. 

Aaron Nola pitches Friday. 

Then possibly Velasquez Saturday. 

On Sunday, the Phils will have to figure out something else because it would be short rest for both Arrieta and Eflin. 

Who are the options? Kapler said Tuesday that hot pitching prospect Adonis Medina, despite being on the 40-man roster, is not under consideration for a start this weekend. 

The organization likely does not feel he’s ready yet and doesn’t want to rush a young pitcher with promise just because it needs a spot starter this weekend. Plus, Medina is a trade chip, and you don’t want to do anything to ding his value by bringing him up before the time feels right. 

So there’s Velasquez, there’s Cole Irvin, there’s Enyel De Los Santos. Those are the three most realistic options. Irvin is still on the active roster and was ticketed for the ‘pen before Mother Nature intervened. 

De Los Santos made a six-inning start for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Sunday, so he’d be on turn this weekend. The Phillies don’t seem to love him as a starting pitcher, though. They haven’t turned to him when the need has arisen this season and when he has been promoted it has been as a reliever. More of a two-pitch pitcher, De Los Santos could ultimately find more success as a reliever. 

Drew Anderson, who started Tuesday for the IronPigs, is another swingman on the 40. There’s also Ranger Suarez. 

If the Phillies want to promote someone who’s not on the 40-man roster, 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Ramon Rosso is another option. He has pitched well in 11 starts this season, including a Triple A debut June 13 in which he struck out nine and did not allow an earned run over six innings.

The other options are using an opener or making a trade. It seems unlikely the Phillies will be able to complete a deal for an attractive starting pitcher by the weekend, but one name to keep in the back of your mind is Mike Leake. He’s a No. 4 starter who has alternated quick and efficient quality starts and clunkers throughout his career. He’s on a Mariners team committed to tearing things down and eager to trade high-priced veterans for seemingly whatever they can get, whether it’s salary relief or an interesting young player. Leake is owed $15 million next season and has a $5 million buyout in 2021, way too much for a pitcher his caliber. The Phillies are not going to want to commit $20 million to him just because he’s the most obtainable starting pitcher on the market this minute. But if the Mariners pick up a bulk of his remaining money a la Bruce, he could and should be considered as a rotation stabilizer, not as the missing piece. 

Fortunately for the Phillies, they face the lowly Marlins this weekend. If there is a team to lack starting pitching against, it is them. 

But again, it highlights the lack of quality options the Phillies have after their first four starting pitchers, who collectively have been just OK. The choice to not sign a veteran starter this offseason has predictably backfired. The team enters Wednesday 39-32, which is still an 89-win pace, but the more important point is that the Braves are surging and the Nationals have won 14 of 21 with a roster every bit as talented as the Phils’. 

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