Phillies

Phillies

After years of speculation and preparation, the Phillies have finally landed their superstar.

It took until the last day of February, but the Phils have agreed to a 13-year deal worth $330 million with 26-year-old Bryce Harper, a source tells NBC Sports Philadelphia Phillies insider Jim Salisbury. 

And here's the kicker:

Harper, like Jake Arrieta and Rhys Hoskins, is a Scott Boras client. There was no question Harper was going to get paid this offseason, the question was just how many hundreds of millions, and which city.

Manny Machado served as the pace car, agreeing on Feb. 19 to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres. At one point in the offseason, it appeared the Phils were prioritizing Machado, but that valuation was too high for their liking. Harper brings more of an entertainment factor than Machado and will be even better for business, which likely factored into the price tag. In some ways, Harper is also a better fit because he adds left-handed power. 

In the days leading up to the Phillies' agreement with Harper, he was connected to the Dodgers, a scary suitor because of their deep pockets, proximity to Harper's Las Vegas home and their ability to contend immediately. But money always talks and the Phillies' offer was the richest.

 

Even though Harper has hit below .250 in two of the past three seasons, he is one of baseball's biggest offensive difference-makers. In a healthy season, you know you're going to get huge power numbers and more than 100 walks from him. In a year when it all comes together for Harper, he's capable of putting up Barry Bonds-like numbers. See 2015, when he hit .330/.460/.649 with 42 homers.

In Harper, the Phillies are also going to get an elite player who plays with attitude and an edge. This city loves the Aaron Rowand types. Harper is that, just in superstar form. He is a genuine attraction who will increase ticket sales, jersey sales, you name it.

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Machado may be the better all-around player because of his defense and baserunning, but Harper’s OPS is 96 points higher over the last four seasons. In a down year from Harper, you’re still getting a .380 on-base percentage and 30 home runs. In Machado’s most recent down year, 2017, he hit .259 with a .310 OBP.

Adding Harper gives the Phillies such a deeper and more formidable lineup. He will likely bat second or fourth. If forced to guess at this moment, it would be second, with Hoskins in the cleanup spot.

The Phillies love to see pitches and make the opposing pitcher work. Harper does that as well as any player in either league. With Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Hoskins batting after a catalyst like Jean Segura, the top of the Phils’ order will be potent. By turning a bottom-of-the-order catcher in Jorge Alfaro into a top-of-the-order catcher in J.T. Realmuto, the Phils may indeed have the deepest batting order, 1 through 8, in the National League.

This move will obviously increase the Phils’ chances to win the NL East. So far, Phillies over-under win totals out of Vegas have hovered in the low-80s. Landing Harper pushes the Phils closer to the high-80s.

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