Going Going Gone: Bryce to sign with Phillies

Ben Krimmel
February 28, 2019 - 2:54 pm
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After months of speculation, Bryce Harper has agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In a massive deal, Harper has agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals' division rivals, MLB Insider Jon Heyman was first to report.

Harper and the Phillies agreed to a 13-year, $330 million contract, the richest in North American sports history. However, at $25.4 million Harper will not top the MLB record for average annual value. According to The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga​, the deal contains no deferred money, no opt-outs, and is described as "front-loaded." The deal also contains a full no-trade clause, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.

Harper, the District's first baseball superstar since MLB returned to Washington in 2005, was the team's first overall draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. In his seven seasons with the Nationals, Harper made six All-Star appearances, won NL Rookie of the Year in 2012, the NL Most Valuable Player award in 2015, and led the team to four NL East titles.

Harper's Nats career included a number of unforgettable moments: his MLB debut, "Clown question, bro" after hitting a towering home run in Toronto, a dugout scrap with teammate Jonathan Papelbon, charging the mound after being hit by a Hunter Strickland pitch, 11 ejections, and winning the 2018 Home Run Derby at Nationals Park while rocking a D.C. flag bandana

However, Harper fell short of delivering playoff success in Washington, as the Nats failed to reach the NLCS in all four of his postseason trips. He'll now strive to do so in Philadelphia with Washington's direct competition in the NL East.

Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner has already said the team will hold a "real ceremony" for Harper on his first visit to Nats Park as an opponent, Tuesday, April 2, the fourth game of the 2019 season.

Reports indicate the Nationals made an aggressive offer to keep Harper of $300 million over 10 years. Reports from MLB.com indicated the deal contained about $100 million in deferred money, which could have been a sticking point with Harper. (The deal with the Phillies contained no deferred money.) After being rebuffed by Harper and his agent Scott Boras, the Nationals were prepared to walk away from the negotiating table.

Lerner told 106.7 The Fan in December, the Nats' offer was "the best we can do."

"Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' We went right to the finish line very quickly," Lerner told 106.7 The Fan. "And we said, 'If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we'll see whether we can finish it up.' But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that."

After spring training began, Lerner reiterated his position, telling NBC Sports Washington, "We've moved on." 

"There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I'm sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we've filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best," Lerner said in February. 

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said, "we’re really satisfied at this particular time of spring training where we’re at and the roster that we have" in February. 

"We've put together a product that we can be proud of and that can compete," Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan. "And I think that right now we're in a position that we can win."

But the Nats now face a future without centerpiece of the franchise who helped them do an awful lot of winning – 98, 86, 96, 83, 95, 97, and 82 games in the last seven seasons.

Time will tell what type of reception Harper will receive from fans during his first at-bat in a Phillies uniform at Nats Park. 

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