Report: Bryce Harper Finalizing Deal With Philadelphia Phillies

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 29: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 29, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Another domino has reportedly fallen in free agency. This time it is former Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper who is reportedly finalizing a deal to head to the Philadelphia Phillies. Harper was widely sought after and believed to be the best free agent on the market. The former NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP just turned 26-years-old and possesses elite power at the plate. He could very well prove to be a difference-maker for Philadelphia’s World Series aspirations.

Jeff Passan with ESPN shared the report:

Bryce Harper Finalizing Deal

The monstrous deal is reported to be worth $330 million over 13 years:

It is easy to see the draw of signing Harper. He already has 184 home runs, 183 doubles, a .512 slugging percentage, and .900 OPS across his career through his age-25 season. Add in an MVP award during his age-22 season and you have a player that a franchise can truly build around. Simply put, players like Harper do not usually hit free agency. The Nationals did reportedly offer an extension worth $300 million to Harper, but he turned that down in order to hit the open market.

Now, Harper has his payday and Philadelphia has its sights set on a championship. Adding Harper to the lineup instantly makes it one of the best in baseball, and opposing pitchers will have a tough time navigating through an order that features Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins.

Critics

Despite his impressive career resume, Harper is not without his critics. Those critics point to an inconsistent 2016 season and his somewhat confusing numbers in 2018. In regards to 2016, Harper did suffer a step back after a monstrous MVP year. He posted just 24 home runs, 84 runs scored, and a 114 OPS+ after putting up 42, 118, and 198 in those same categories during 2015. However, Harper rebounded nicely in 2017 despite being limited to 111 games.

On the other hand, Harper’s 2018 numbers are hard to digest. He posted 1.3 bWAR, in large part due to a terrible showing defensively for the year. Meanwhile, fWAR was much kinder to Harper, having him at 3.5 for the season.

Regardless of how you feel about metrics, there is some reason for criticism and praise from Harper’s numbers last season. He set a career-high and led all of baseball with 130 walks, but he set a career-high with 169 strikeouts. Harper eclipsed 30 home runs and 30 doubles, recording 34 of each, but his slugging percentage came down to .496. His OPS+ also dropped more than 20 points from 2017 to 2018 (156 to 133).

The Future

Harper has certainly had a few inconsistent seasons early in his career, but there’s no denying he is a game-changer offensively. Even through his down years, Harper has eclipsed 20 home runs in six of his seven seasons, including four straight years with at least 24.

Signing a player at Harper’s age with a career OPS+ of 139 is largely unheard of. While some teams may have scoffed at his asking price, Harper legitimately puts the Phillies squarely in a position to seriously compete for a World Series. If Harper can help achieve that championship, his contract is a small price to pay.

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