Bryce Harper will spend the next 13 years of his life wearing the uniform of the Philadelphia Phillies. Just to give you an idea of how long 13 years is, 13 years ago, Felipe Alou was in the final year of his deal with the Giants. Barry Bonds had yet to be forced into retirement. SBC Park had just become AT&T Park. There were no iPhones.
Now, we’ll never really know just how close the Giants were to having Bryce Harper select them as his new team — although we do now have a general sense of what they might’ve offered — but I’m sticking to my main point that the possibility was always remote. The most interesting part of the negotiation for me would be knowing just how close Farhan Zaidi and Larry Baer came to the Phillies’ offer. Which, again —
Bryce Harper’s deal with the Philadelphia Phillies includes a no-trade clause, league sources tell ESPN. Combine that with the 13-year, $330 million term, and this much is clear: Bryce Harper is committed to being a Philadelphia Phillie for the rest of his career.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 28, 2019
That’s a staggering deal, even if the average annual value of about $25 million seems a little bit underwhelming. The Phillies were clearly more comfortable setting the contract record by keeping an injury-prone outfielder through his age 39 season... which is probably the best way to amortize the cost, but whoa doggy that’s a lot of years! A baker’s dozen!
In the meantime, they get about a 4-5 win player for at least the first 4-5 years of the deal. Then, after that, we’ll see. They also get a young face and name brand to attach to the marquee and generate huge interest in the team. If their front office is as smart as they think they are, then it will be up to them to continue to find young, cheap talent to surround Harper with... or just spend on payroll to a degree commensurate with their market and revenue. In other words, they can easily afford Harper now and in the future.
The deal is already going really well for all parties involved:
On to the more important news... what does this mean for the Giants? A whole lotta nothing. This doesn’t change the fact that the Giants aren’t going to be good this year. Even if Harper had agreed to their terms, they still wouldn’t have been good, but they would’ve had Bryce Harper and the promise of having Bryce Harper on the roster the next time the team is good. But 2019 is all about marking time and watching the front office figure out how it can remake itself and set up the organization for another window of success.
So, we’re missing one new character in the final season of Bruce Bochy’s career, which is the de facto last chapter in the Giants’ Success Saga of the 2010s. That’s... that’s fine. I really think that’s fine.
The most important part of all this is that Farhan Zaidi just got his first taste of being a Giant.
Dear Mr. Zaidi,
Welcome! You are going to find yourself running into weird disappointments. You run one of pro sports’ crown jewel franchises and you are about to find that very few marquee baseball players want to play for it. That’s going to seem incredibly frustrating at first, I’d imagine, but pretty soon, your resolve will harden and you’ll see exactly why Brian Sabean’s glib view of free agency and Oracle Park itself is the only way to manage in this world.
I think you already know that the way Bobby Evans handled rejection — the executive equivalent of “eating his feelings” — by handing out big contracts to mid-tier players and trading away young players to the Tampa Bay Rays is not the way to operate. You’ll figure out your own process in all this, but in the meantime, just know that it happens to everybody who runs the Giants.