CommRadio Reacts to Bryce Harper Signing with Phillies
Following his blockbuster move to the Phillies, Jake Starr and Andre Magaro break down Harper's massive contract and what it means for the Phillies moving forward:
After almost an entire offseason of rumors and negotiations, it appears Bryce Harper has finally found his landing spot. The six-time all-star outfielder has chosen to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia has been a likely destination for Harper throughout the offseason. However, many believed talks had broken down between the two sides, and perhaps the door had been opened for other teams.
Phillies fans were especially concerned when rumors surfaced about Harper’s family talking him out of signing with Philadelphia twice, along with continuous disagreements between Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, and the Phillies’ front office regarding a potential opt-out clause. It seems that cooler heads ultimately prevailed.
Turning to the logistics of the contract, it is mutually beneficial. The deal is for 13 years, $330 million and includes a no-trade clause, along with no opt-out.
To begin, this deal becomes the largest in MLB history, breaking Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million extensions signed in 2014. This was said to be a huge goal of Harper and Boras once free agency began.
While Harper got his long-awaited payday, this deal is not constructed terribly for the Phillies either.
The deal’s average annual value is only $25.4 million. This allows Philadelphia to remain financially flexible and pursue other talented players in the coming off seasons while worrying less about the luxury tax threshold.
No opt-out clause also guarantees the Phillies maintain the franchise’s new building block for the duration of the deal.
The lack of an opt-out does not appear to bother Harper either. After news of the deal broke, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted a quote from an anonymous source, claiming Harper did not want an opt-out.
So how does this deal help the Phillies from an on-the-field standpoint?
Well, the acquisition is a tremendous upgrade from recent right fielders in Philadelphia. In fact, the Phillies have had the lowest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in right field three of the last four seasons.
Harper is a generational talent who is an upgrade both defensively and offensively.
However, most of Harper’s appeal comes from his offensive game – specifically, his power numbers combined with plate discipline. His career on-base plus slugging percentage of .8996 ranks seventh among active players and second among right fielders to only Giancarlo Stanton.
Not to mention, Harper is especially successful at Citizens Bank Park. His .564 slugging percentage ranks fourth among any visiting ballpark where he has played at least 15 games. His 14 home runs at Citizens Bank Park is also his highest total of any road venue.
The dimensions of the park play much friendlier to Harper than they did in D.C. There is not a huge disparity between Citizen Bank Park’s 330-foot distance to the right-field line and National Park’s 335-foot distance, but given the location, Citizens Bank Park plays like a much more “hitter-friendly” venue.
Harper also remains in the NL East, where he has hit some of the best pitchings in baseball at a rather successful clip.
Harper has a .323 lifetime batting average against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom, including seven walks and two home runs. Given that DeGrom is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his career against the Phillies, Harper will be a welcome addition to battling this division foe.
Two more aces who have been quite troublesome for the Phillies are Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Scherzer is 9-2 with a 2.64 ERA in his career against Philadelphia, while Strasburg is 12-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
Harper’s history on the Washington Nationals has allowed him to collect plenty of knowledge on the games of both Scherzer and Strasburg. Harper will help this new and improved Phillies lineup greatly in going against one of the best one-two combinations in the sport.
Finally, Harper’s bat adds what this Philadelphia order was missing – a power-hitting left-handed bat. Though the Phillies have done well to address most of the positions which plagued them last season, their lineup was certainly top heavy towards right-handers. Harper can be inserted right into the middle of the Phillies’ lineup, allowing for mutual protection for himself, along with new teammates JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Andrew McCutchen among others.
To clarify, the Phillies are coming off an 80-win season and have upgraded significantly all across the diamond. Adding the blockbuster player Bryce Harper will help Philadelphia compete for a championship now, and well into the future.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.