- Bryce Harper is still a free agent on the eve of the regular season, with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers considered the favorites to sign the perennial All-Star.
- The Phillies are rumored to have offered Harper a long-term deal that could be the richest in North American sports history.
- Conversely, the Dodgers would opt for a shorter contract for Harper that might give him a higher annual salary.
- Los Angeles can also offer Harper some things Philadelphia cannot.
- A decision is expected at some point this week, though if a deal doesn’t come to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first time Harper’s rumored signing would up a false alarm.
With teams across Major League Baseball already preparing for the 2019 season, the biggest free agent in the sport is still looking for a new club.
When it became clear that Bryce Harper was going to hit free agency, many projected he could earn a record-setting contract in the ballpark of 10 years and $350 million.
After a slow start to free agency, it felt like the dominoes might finally start to fall when fellow superstar Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres in mid-February.
But in the days since, Harper’s destination has remained an enigma, with reports simultaneously teasing that a contract is closer than ever and new deals are still on the table.
Alex Brandon/APHarper has been rumored to be close to signing with the Philadelphia Phillies since the start of free agency. With a young roster that showed signs of competing last season, the Phillies looked like a perfect fit for Harper’s big bat, and owner John Middleton was clear about his intentions, saying the team was "going into [free agency] expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."
But despite numerous teases and apparent close calls, Harper remains unsigned.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies have offered Harper over $300 million, and believe they have the high bid. If Harper wants to sign a record-setting deal that would keep him with one team for the better part of the next decade, the Phillies still seem like the front-runners to land him.
But according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Phillies have grown concerned that the Dodgers might be able to put together a more appealing offer for the perennial All-Star.
As Joel Sherman explains in the New York Post, the Dodgers can offer Harper some things the Phillies can’t — a team that plays close to home, and the appeal stardom beyond sport in Los Angeles. But the Dodgers have a policy against giving out mega-contracts that span too many years, as Harper’s rumored 10-year deal would seem to qualify.
The Dodgers could make an exception, but more likely, they would opt to overpay Harper for a shorter deal. Harper could potentially command as much as $40 million annually for a deal that only lasted for four years.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says that a deal is expected before the end of the week, noting that the bids of the Phillies, Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants would all be considered.
Whichever deal Harper signs, he will almost certainly set some sort of earnings record.
With the Phillies, he could sign the richest contract in baseball history and set himself up with a healthy fraction of a billion dollars that would keep him in Philadelphia for the next decade.
With the Dodgers, Harper would likely become the highest-paid player on an annual basis in the history of North American sports and put him in position to go through yet another free agency in four years or so, while he’ll still command value barring disaster.
As things stand, there are still only rumors to go on, but with Opening Day approaching fast and so much money on the table, it’s hard to imagine Harper waiting much longer to make a deal.
- Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is on the market for nearly 70% off the original price — here’s a look inside the 2,700-acre property with its sprawling mansion and Disney-themed train station
- No-deal Brexit panic after ministers realize the UK doesn’t have the right pallets for exporting to the EU
- The House votes to terminate Trump’s national-emergency declaration