February 26, 2019
The Phillies made an offer for Bryce Harper worth north of $300 million over 10 years, reports said early Tuesday morning.
By late Tuesday morning, it was clear Philly's offer would probably need to go higher.
The Rockies announced a monster extension for their stud third baseman Nolan Arenado, keeping him off the open market next year and locking him down for seven more seasons. His deal is worth $32.5 million per season, giving him the highest AAV or Average Annual Value in baseball history for a position player, even though his total deal was $260 million, less than the total Harper is being offered.
Slightly less than the original report, but at $32.5M per year Arenado still becomes the highest average paid position player in MLB history, and the 2nd highest all-time behind Zack Greinke’s $34M. He’ll have a chance to hit free agency at 30 years old. Cash + Control. https://t.co/zH9jB8ry9w— Spotrac (@spotrac) February 26, 2019
It's no secret that Harper and his agent Scott Boras expect to make the biggest deal in baseball history, and being the highest paid player in MLB is likely their No. 1 priority. The current numbers to beat are Zack Greinke's $34.4 million per year (for AAV) and Giancarlo Stanton's $335 million over 13 years (for total contract amount).
Arenado is probably the better ballplayer between the two, but the Harper camp is banking on his marketability and star power as bringing him more value.
Harper will now be seeking something north of $330 million (to exceed the position player mark) or even $350 million to be the highest player ever. It now makes some sense why Harper's camp has been dragging its feet. It was widely reported that Colorado wanted to extend Arenado. That they did for so much money plays right into Harper's hands.
The signing also gives Harper more leverage simply because it's one less big name free agent the Phillies could potentially save their money to target in the future. There is no guarantee a player of Harper's caliber will hit the open market anytime soon — though a few still might.
Phillies' GM Matt Klentak has a "walk away" number. Is it $350 million?
But there's more. The slugger now says he wants a three-year opt out clause (so we could do this all again in three seasons, hooray).
Phillies are in a staredown with agent Scott Boras over Bryce Harper’s demand for a three-year opt-out in the 10-year, $330-million deal. What do you say, Philadelphia? Should the Phillies say yes?— Angelo Cataldi (@AngeloCataldi) February 26, 2019
An opt out makes sense for someone who wants to be the highest paid baseball player ever. The current CBA (collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league) expires in three years. If Harper's folks have faith in the players association, they may want try and get even more money after things get re-negotiated in three years.
The Phillies reportedly have the best offer on the table, with the Dodgers, Giants (both short term) and a fourth team also interested. We'll see if anything gets shaken up now.
It was reported over the weekend that Harper's deal would be completed by the end of the week. We can only hope this new development doesn't stifle progress and drag this out any further.
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