How Nolan Arenado's mega-deal affects Bryce Harper negotiations

How Nolan Arenado's mega-deal affects Bryce Harper negotiations

Manny Machado wasn't the only player Bryce Harper was competing with this offseason to land the biggest contract. Nolan Arenado, though he wasn't a free agent, was also on track to get paid this winter and did he ever.

Arenado and the Rockies are finalizing an eight-year extension worth $260 million, according to multiple reports. The deal's annual average is $32.5 million, a major-league record for a position player.

There is an opt-out provision after three seasons, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, a key inclusion based on what it could mean for Harper.

The risk of waiting

Arenado was set to become a free agent after the 2019 season but the Rockies couldn't let him walk.

His extending early shows the risk of waiting for future free agents when a superstar like Harper is available now. Mookie Betts and Mike Trout line up as the next two elite free agents (after 2020) but there's no certainty either reaches the open market. The deep-pocketed Red Sox will do everything it takes to retain Betts. While Trout is expected to get to free agency, the competition for him will be fierce and much more crowded than the markets were for Machado and Harper this offseason.

One of the most important aspects of this offseason for the Phillies has been the reluctance of teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs to woo the top two free agents. The Dodgers were believed to be in that group, too, before re-emerging in the race for Harper. All of those teams and many others will pursue Trout if/when he becomes available. 

Arenado's impact on Harper market

Scott Boras' goals with the Harper deal aren't too difficult to decipher. He'll want Harper's deal to exceed Machado's $300 million, Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million and now Arenado's $32.5M per year.

A 10-year, $330 million deal would accomplish all three goals, but Harper's camp is likely seeking even more than that. The magic number seems closer to $360 million. It's unclear if the Phillies will go that high since it doesn't appear any other organization can.

The opt-out

Arenado's ability to opt out of his contract after three years might not be all that meaningful for him. It gives him flexibility, but three years from now he'll be entering his age-31 season. Is he really going to find a better deal at that point than Years 4-8 of the record-setting one he's about to sign?

Harper is 18 months younger than Arenado. For Harper, opting out after three years would make him a free agent at 29. He'd be in position to find another huge contract if the first three years of his next deal go well. Though again, Harper might not be able to find more money than he'd be due to make in Year 4 and beyond of the contract he signs this offseason.

In any event, Harper and Boras will seek that opt-out and probably multiple opt-outs during the life of a long-term contract from the Phillies. It gives the player protection if he underperforms but freedom if he overperforms. It's a concession the Phillies have likely known all winter they'll have to make if they want Harper.

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Phillies 6, Mets 0: Rhys Hoskins gets his revenge as Phillies end ugly road trip on a high note

Phillies 6, Mets 0: Rhys Hoskins gets his revenge as Phillies end ugly road trip on a high note


NEW YORK — It was a forgettable road trip but the Phillies ended it on a positive note, beating the Mets, 6-0, in Wednesday's series finale at Citi Field.

Oh, and Rhys Hoskins got his revenge.

A night after Mets reliever Jacob Rhame threw two fastballs at Hoskins' head in the span of five pitches, Hoskins faced him again and this time homered to left field.

It had to feel amazing for Hoskins, who circled the bases as slowly as you will ever see. 

Vince Velasquez pitched well again, even if he lasted only five innings.

The Phils scored their first run in the first inning when J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back doubles. 

They were quiet until the eighth when they broke things open against Robert Gsellman. Hoskins led off with a triple and Maikel Franco followed with an RBI single. Phil Gosselin drove in a run with a pinch-hit RBI single to center, before Roman Quinn added the third run of the inning with a safety squeeze. Quinn exited a few minutes later with an apparent injury.

For all of the Phillies' recent offensive issues, they have thrived with a runner on third and less than two outs, hitting .500 (21 for 42) to lead the majors.

The win makes the Phillies 13-11, same as the Mets. The Phils have already played 17 games against the NL East and gone 10-7.

Vinny Velo making strides

While continuing to receive little credit from the fan base, Velasquez continues to do his job.

Wednesday night was Velasquez's fourth start of the season and in all four, he's kept the Phillies in the game and limited damage. In this one, 97 pitches forced a five-and-dive, but Velasquez did not allow a run over those five innings.

He stranded the bases loaded in a 27-pitch first inning and stranded two runners in scoring position in the third.

The three biggest at-bats of Velasquez's night all came against the dangerous Wilson Ramos. In the first two ABs, Velasquez struck Ramos out swinging with a high fastball. In the third, Velasquez induced a groundout to second base on his final pitch of the night.

Through four starts, Velasquez has a 1.99 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a .195 opponents' batting average.

His next start lines up for April 30 against the Tigers, one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

Quinn can't catch a break

Even the perfectly executed safety squeeze Quinn laid down in the eighth inning ended badly.

Quinn, who is just 3 for 25 with 14 strikeouts, exited the game later in the eighth with an apparent groin or hip injury.

Injuries have unfortunately defined Quinn's career to this point. More on the severity in a bit.

Robertson nearing a return?

Key reliever David Robertson will be reevaluated when the Phillies come home, potentially as early as Thursday (see story). He's feeling good but a throwing program will be determined after that check-up. From there, a minor-league rehab outing or two could be in line before he returns from a Grade 1 flexor strain in his right arm.

Up next

The Phillies begin a nine-game homestand Thursday night at 7:05 against Miami. They have a four-game series with the Marlins, an off day, two with the Tigers, another off day, then three with the Nationals.

Pitching matchups for the Marlins series:

Thursday night at 7:05 — Aaron Nola (2-0, 6.84) vs. LHP Caleb Smith (2-0, 2.35)

Friday night at 7:05 — Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 3.60) vs. Jose Urena (1-3, 5.74)

Saturday night at 6:05 — Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.65) vs. Trevor Richards (0-3, 3.72)

Sunday afternoon at 1:05 — Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) vs. LHP Pablo Lopez (1-3, 5.85)

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Phillies call up shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who's known for his competitive fire

USA Today Images/Kim Klement

Phillies call up shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who's known for his competitive fire

NEW YORK — All signs point to Jean Segura returning to the Phillies on Saturday, but in the meantime, the Phils have another shortstop: Sean Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was called up from Triple A on Wednesday, two days before his 34th birthday. He will immediately get the start at shortstop for the Phillies, batting seventh on Wednesday night against Mets left-hander Jason Vargas.

Rodriguez's call-up was one of several roster moves the Phillies made ahead of their series finale in New York. Right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos was also recalled from Triple A, while Mitch Walding and Drew Anderson were optioned back to Lehigh Valley. 

Additionally, left-handed reliever James Pazos was designated for assignment. Acquired in the Segura trade with Seattle, Pazos wasn't sharp in spring training and had a rough go with the IronPigs, allowing six runs and seven walks in 7⅓ innings.

The Phillies have had to utilize more of their 40-man roster than they would have liked these last two weeks. Scott Kingery was Segura's replacement, but then Kingery suffered a hamstring injury of his own. The next man up was Phil Gosselin, who had two singles in his Phillies debut last Friday and a three-run double Saturday but is 0 for 12 since. Gosselin also committed a throwing error in the first inning of Tuesday night's loss.

Enter Rodriguez, who last season in the majors played every position except pitcher and catcher. He's spent most of his career as a bench utilityman but had a lot of success in 2016 as a platoon player with the Pirates, hitting .270/.349/.510 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in just 342 plate appearances.

Even through his struggles the last two seasons, Rodriguez has more than held his own against left-handed pitching. Since 2016, he has a .384 OBP against lefties, which you'd think factored into the timing of this call-up. The Phillies face the lefty Vargas on Wednesday and another southpaw in Caleb Smith Thursday. 

Rodriguez, who's tight with Andrew McCutchen and thrilled to again share a clubhouse with him, had an opt-out in his contract if he didn't make the team out of spring training but decided to stay in the organization and accept the role at Triple A. 

"I'm in it to win," he said. "That's what I told (Gabe) Kapler and (Matt) Klentak. It was clear this offseason this team was trying to win."

Rodriguez had been hitting for power at Triple A, going 11 for 25 with four homers, a triple, two doubles and 12 RBI in his last six games before Tuesday night. Despite that and the Phillies' growing injured list, he tried his best to not sit by his phone and await the call.

"We can try to play GM but I learned a long time ago not to do that," he said. "You obviously see the injuries and all that but you don't buy into it, you just try to show up every day and do your job on a daily basis."

Rodriguez is perhaps best-known for his fire and competitiveness in the field, on the bases and in the dugout. He's the consummate good teammate, the kind of guy who's usually the first one out when benches begin to clear in a situation like the Phillies experienced Tuesday night when two fastballs were thrown above Rhys Hoskins' head.

He has no intentions of dialing that back as he gets reacclimated to the group of guys he spent spring training with.

"I think if you've identified pretty early on that's who you are as a player and competitor, it's hard not to just continue to be that guy," he said. "If you're not, then you're almost taking yourself and your competitive nature and putting it aside. Basically, you're putting it in the closet. You don't want to do that. 

"If that's who you are, that's who you are. You learn to somewhat not let the rage come out in a bad or negative way. That's what you try to harness and buffer up a bit. But definitely not turning it off."

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