The Dream Is Dead: Bryce Harper Signs with Phillies for 13 Years, $330 Million

Bryce Harper is coming to Chicago…in a Phillies uniform a couple times a year.

It was excruciatingly fun while it lasted, but it’s time to take off the hair shirt and put down the cat o’ nine tales because it appears our masochistic coverage of Harper’s free agency has ended. After a laborious courtship, the slugging outfielder ended up staying in the NL East by agreeing to a 13-year, $330 million deal ($25.4M AAV) with the Phillies that reportedly includes no opt-outs.

Jon Heyman was first with the news and the total value, with Jeff Passan out front on the years and lack of options.

So I guess all those hints about hitting back-to-back one day with Kris Bryant and loving deep dish pizza were just part of the long con. Harper and Scott Boras may have circled back to the Cubs, maybe even more than once, but it’s been evident since late October that Theo Epstein would have to move a mountain to make it work. Or, you know, a right fielder and a guy who used to pitch for the Rockies.

Although, man, it was just $25 million AAV that got it done? That’s $5-10 million less than expected, even if it does run until he’s 39 years old. And no opt-outs. That the Cubs couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to get to that level for a guy who reportedly preferred to play for them is going to stick in my craw for a while.

I assume we’ll learn more about additional details in the future, but that’s just not what I had expected.

The Phillies had long been viewed as the final destination for either Harper or Manny Machado, what with their “stupid” money and a desire to cement themselves as favorites in a division dominated of late by Harper’s old team. But after Machado landed in San Diego with a 10-year, $300 million deal, the onus was on John Middleton to make good on his boasts. And make good he did.

Harper remaining in the NL is far from the best thing in the world for the Cubs, but it’s not the death knell of seeing him 19 times a year in St. Louis or Milwaukee (not that either was viewed as a serious contender for his services). Having Harper in the AL would have been even better, but the NL East is no joke and should wear all the teams out over 162 games. The Nationals still have a lot of young talent and an excellent rotation, the Braves are building a contender, the Mets are a training staff away from being good again, and now the Phillies are more than legit.

The Marlins, on the other hand, continue to operate the world’s largest Air BnB as Derek Jeter allows divisional opponents to kick their feet up and relax 19 times a year. Heck, they’ll even trade away their best players to add an extra level of comfort.

As for the rest of us, well, I guess we’ll have to learn how to put the “Cubs” back in Cubs Insider. We’ve been devoting so much time to Harper for what feels like the last year, figuring out what to write about is going to be difficult. How about this for a start: Why the Cubs Need to Extend Kris Bryant Yesterday.

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Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and co-founder of Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College.

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18 Comments

  1. Evan, I absolutely agree with everything you wrote having Harper in a Cubs uniform would have been great. I must admit my preference would have been Manny Machado in a Cubs uniform because of the defense he could have added at 3rd base. Moving Kris Bryant to the outfield, less wear and tear on his shoulder. I realize over the course of his career Theo Epstein has had his problems with free agency. But in my opinion the real villains, so to speak, are Tom Ricketts and his family. For claiming they have no money to spend on the baseball side. For not doing everything they can to keep the window of opportunity for Cubs success as wide open as possible. To not even provide the necessary money to sign a quality closer and a quality backup catcher, as a Cubs fan is devastating, and not acceptable.

    1. I would rather sign Bryce Harper for only 25.4M AAV and take my chances on KB and see if Javy is more than a one hit wonder. At the end of day you would still have Harper on a nice AAV when you could end up with nothing as KB is going to want a higher AAV since he’s older and can’t get all those years.

  2. >>That the Cubs could’t or wouldn’t be able to get to that level for a guy who reportedly preferred to play for them is going to stick in my craw for a while.<<

    Mine, as well. I was pretty confident that this front office would find a way to get it done. He was there for the taking.
    This was my Ricketts/Theo "sobering moment" that they won't do what it takes to get back to the WS.

  3. The 14 and 350 or 25M AAV I been wanting them to offer for weeks would have been good enough if Theo didn’t clutter the roster full of bad moves after the tank.

    1. This pisses me off ever more

      Phillies deal
      20M SB
      10M in 19
      26M from 20-28
      22M from 29-31

      What I said a few days ago…
      30M SB
      10M in 19
      30M in 20
      30M in 21
      –Opt Out– 3 Years 100M
      27.5M in 22 and 23
      –Opt Out– 5 years 155M
      25M 24-28
      –Opt Out– 10 years 280M
      17.5M 29-32
      Total 14 years 350M

  4. Evan, I absolutely agree with everything you wrote having Harper in a Cubs uniform would have been great. I must admit my preference would have been Manny Machado in a Cubs uniform because of the defense he could have added at 3rd base. Moving Kris Bryant to the outfield, less wear and tear on his shoulder. I realize over the course of his career Theo Epstein has had his problems with free agency. But in my opinion the real villains, so to speak, are Tom Ricketts and his family. For claiming they have no money to spend on the baseball side. For not doing everything they can to keep the window of opportunity for Cubs success as wide open as possible. To not even provide the necessary money to sign a quality closer and a quality backup catcher, as a Cubs fan is devastating, and not acceptable.

  5. Harper: “a guy who reportedly preferred to play for [the Cubs].” Yeah, right! In reality, Harper’s first three preferences were likely money, more money, and the most money. With his injury history, I doubt he accumulates 30 WAR over the duration of the 13-year contract. In conclusion, go Cubs go! I’m really looking forward to the 2019 season. It’s not going to be cakewalk for anybody, but, if the Cubs stay healthy, they’ve got a good shot at another great season.

  6. If the Cubs added Harper on the same deal they would been just over the big tax line by just over 6M or Kintzler, Ryan and Barnette who they wouldn’t miss.

  7. Yea I can’t wait see Heyward hit IF fly with RISP, Almora hit into DP, and Schwarbs SO with bases loaded. But we love our guys LMAO, one hit wonder! How the hell does anyone think the same team gets better? They’ll start slow as always, get hot and collapse in second half again, I think a 6th grader knows you have to upgrade the roster to improve. Don’t defend rickets when you don’t spend wisely you dump and trade, but it makes sense they keep young guys cause they’re inexpensive, then they can make excuses next offseason and say we’re waiting for trout with no real intent to sign him, shoot be probably won’t want play for team whose window is closed. Cubs problem is they over value their players,

  8. The 13 year part of the deal just screams Albert Pujols to me, albeit the Harper deal isn’t nearly as back-loaded. If Harper gets off to a bad start this year – like he did last year – those Philly fans will be giving him a “special kind of welcome”.

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