February 28, 2019
The Phillies signed Bryce Harper to, well, compared to what he and his agent probably wanted, very very good terms for the organization and its future plans.
The deal reportedly struck Thursday afternoon is a 13-year pact worth $330 million, or around $25.38 million per season — well below the AAV of Nolan Arenado, who will be paid $32.5 million per season and whose record contract will stand.
Bryce Harper's deal isn't even in the top ten of average annual MLB salaries, when factoring for inflation: pic.twitter.com/zWgSbH8Pdq— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 28, 2019
Harper still receives the most money in baseball history at $330 million, but the Phillies will hang on to something that will be very very important as the emerge as a serious World Series contender: payroll flexibility.
For people that are stressing over the 13 years… the AAV is $25.38m…If the #Phillies had done 10 years the AAV would have been $33m…..to get the extra years of control towards the end of his career makes sense at the AAV. #Phillies . 13-years $330m deal. #Bryce Harper— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) February 28, 2019
The current luxury tax threshold — the soft salary cap for MLB baseball teams that is heavily taxed if exceeded — is at $206 million this season and set to slightly rise each season over the course of Harper's decade-plus contract. With his relatively low AAV, the Phils have some money to go after another big fee agent this March. Or Mike Trout in the future.
|Payroll pre Harper||Post Harper|
|Luxury Tax space ($206)||$80m||$54m|
That's a lot of remaining "cap space." And even with their other signings, David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen, the team is still outside of the top 10 of the league's highest payrolls.
They also have room for Dallas Keuchel, or Craig Kimbrel — two top pitchers still on the market who are looking for a new home. Here's a table we used last week. The stats are from baseball reference's 2019 season projections:
|W/L||ERA||Average WAR||Est. Salary|
|Dallas Keuchel||11-9||3.71||2.6||$20-24m per year|
|Craig Kimbrel||4-2 (25 saves)||3.14||2.2||$15-17m per year|
One or even both would keep the Phils under the luxury tax with room to spare, and both would give the new look Phillies even more ammo as they'll no doubt be tagged the front-runners in the NL East (and possibly in the National League).
Here's another table from last week, looking forward a few offseasons at some of the big ticket free agents who will become available:
|FA year / age||BA||HR / RBI||Average WAR|
|Anthony Rendon||2019 / 29||.285||20 / 81||3.5|
|Mike Trout||2020 / 29||.299||30 / 74||8.0|
|Mookie Betts||2020 / 28||.301||24 / 80||7.0|
|Francisco Lindor||2021 / 28||.279||26 / 78||5.9|
By somehow walking a tightrope that netted them Harper and salary room to spare — The Phillies' front office definitely won the Harper deal.
It could be the start of a new era of Phillies baseball. Buy your tickets now. A new sellout streak could be starting on March 28.
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