Manager Gabe Kapler heard the big news from fans in the stands during the Philadelphia Phillies spring training game. His team won the Bryce Harper draw, agreeing to a 13-year, $ 330 million contract with the free agent agent, league sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Thursday.
Harper's deal includes a non-bargaining clause and does not have opt-outs, league sources told ESPN, indicating he is committed to the Phillies possibly for the rest of his career.
Fans showed Kapler and the Phillies their phones, giving updates as reports leaked. He said he asked where they were getting the information, afraid that it was not legitimate.
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"If the reports are true, it's a huge moment for our baseball team," Kapler said after the game. "We got a lot better on the pitch, and Bryce Harper is a great team-mate. We would love to have him in our club if the reports are true."
Harper, the MVP of the 2015 National League and still only 26, was one of the top prizes of this year's crop of free agents. Defender Manny Machado agreed to a $ 300 million 10-year contract with the San Diego Padres, and Harper's total was presumed to exceed that contract. He not only did this but also his full 13-year extension of $ 325 million from Giancarlo Stanton, signed with the Miami Marlins.
"We had average $ 45 million in short-term deals," Harper's agent Scott Boras told the New York Post. "We had a full buffet."
The MLB Network was the first to report that Harper and the Phillies were approaching an agreement.
"The goal was to get the contract as long as possible," Boras told the Post. "Bryce wanted a city for the rest of his career, which is what I was instructed to do. It's very difficult at this point to get the contract length that leads a player to reach 37, 38, 39."
The Phillies, Giants and Dodgers were competing for Harper. The Dodgers were interested in hiring him for a short-term deal. The San Francisco Chronicle, citing multiple sources, reported that the giants hit 12 years and $ 310 million with the offer.
Kapler, who said Harper would probably be third or fourth on the list, met Harper during his off-season courtship.
"One thing we know about Bryce is that he is an intense individual," he said. "He plays the game especially hard."
After news of Harper's decision, his chances of winning the 2019 MVP NL went from 6-1 to 5-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
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Harper is not the only squad upgrade for the Phillies, who were 80-82 to finish third in NL last season. They traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Jean Segura and signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever David Robertson.
"It's exciting, he's a superstar player," said Aaron Nola of Harper, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We were already a better team without him, but now that we've got him, it takes a bit."
Nola signed a four-year extension on her own in this offseason. He was questioned by NBC Sports during the Phillies game on Thursday about the significance of Harper's signature.
"We're not rebuilding anymore, and that's exciting," he said, adding, "We're ready to fight again."
Zach Eflin, a Phillies player, told NBC that the team already had very high expectations but added that Harper takes it to another level.
"We're all excited, I'm sure he's excited," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun for a lot of years."
He was asked what this says to the fans.
"Anyone can look and see that it's time to win," he said.
Former National teammate Max Scherzer said Harper's 13-year contract is good for the game. He will also provide Scherzer with a new challenge as Harper moves within the NL East.
"Hey, let's face it," Scherzer said. "Will be fun."
Washington coach Davey Martinez was happy for his former player.
"He deserves it," Martinez said. "He's one of the best young players in the game, I'm happy to have spent a year with him, we'll always be close, he makes that division a little harder, but I wish him all the best, I really good for him."
Harper is six-time All-Star and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2012, who spent his first seven seasons with Nationals. He is a patient hitter, known for hitting many homers and drawing many walks, and has a .279 average with 184 homers, 521 RBIs and a base 388 percent throughout his career.
Harper hit 0.249 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs for Washington last season. He fought for much of the first half, but won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities at Nationals Park and hit .300 with 11 home runs, 46 RBIs and 46 runs scored in 223 shots after the break. He led the NL on walks with 130 and was in fifth place in the base percentage (0.393).
He is going to a stadium that fits him well. Harper has 14 career home runs at Citizens Bank Park, the most comprehensive at any stage of his career. His 564 career career goal in the park ranks first among 71 players with at least 200 appearances on the field. Rhys Hoskins, who is likely to be directly behind Harper in the batting order, ranks second in the list (562).
According to the Baseball Prospectus, Citizens Bank Park is connected to Miller Park as the most friendly and homely NL stadium for left-handed scouts in the last three seasons.
One of the key discussion topics for nationals – and all major league baseball – going into the offseason was whether the team would be able to sign Harper for a long-term deal. According to reports, he declined a $ 300 million 10-year Nats offer.
He entered free agency after declining the offer of qualification of the National by 17.9 million dollars. Because nationals are above the luxury tax, they would have a further choice after the fourth round in compensation for Harper.
Knowing that his team has lost, Giants infielder Brandon Belt praised the San Francisco players, but he told Harper's Chronicle: "It sucks not to be us."
Harper led the top leagues in 2015 with 42 homers and reached 0.33 with 99 RBIs. He dropped to an average of 243 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2016, then rebounded to 319 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in just 111 games in 2017.
"He showed what kind of player he is and now he's a gray-haired veteran," said club general director Mike Rizzo on Nov. 7. "He's done a lot in the game and he's just scratching the surface."