Bryce Harper

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Bernstein: Bryce Harper Deal Makes Sense

Harper reached a 13-year, $330-million deal with the Phillies on Thursday.

Dan Bernstein
February 28, 2019 - 3:57 pm
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(670 The Score) The pain of losing out on Manny Machado wasn't enough for the White Sox to re-engage on Bryce Harper and even after a formal meeting with him, they didn't ever submit an offer. The Cubs never said never and remained apprised of his status throughout the process but weren't involved aggressively.

And in the end it was what was long expected, with Harper joining the Phillies for 13 years and $330 million on a straight-up deal with no money deferred and no opt-outs. Machado's 10-year, $300-million windfall with the Padres set the market, some competitive bidders proved useful enough and the lengthy process concluded with an arrangement that appears mutually beneficial for Harper and the Phillies. Harper gets to settle into a park where he has posted a .930 career OPS, and the team pays a relatively reasonable $25.38 million per year for someone poised to be in annual consideration for National League MVP for the foreseeable future.

When healthy, Harper projects to be a 4-5 win player as just a baseline number, a value that translates per Fangraphs.com data to somewhere around $32 million to $40 million annually. He has already posted seasons worth more than his new average annual value in five of his seven years, and that's using the lower calculated win values of those seasons. Factor in the significance of inflation over time and it becomes even more palatable, especially with the likelihood that the NL adopts the designated hitter, allowing Harper to maintain his worth longer on the back end. With all the talk from the Phillies about being able to dive into this market with "stupid money," this is actually far from it -- it's smart.

Any MLB team could've afforded this same arrangement too, remember, no matter what they each may claim about expenditures, budgets, luxury taxes or television revenue. Their massive pile of profits would only be a tad less massive to make their team significantly better: Harper's four wins were reflected immediately in the betting market, where the Phillies' projected win total jumped from 85.5 to 89.5.

The risk in such big contracts is the player getting seriously hurt or becoming inexplicably ineffective, putting all of that WAR math sideways at some point in the next 13 years, but that comes along with a big swing like this.

Thirteen years is a very long time, and Bryce Harper the Phillie will reach his bar mitzvah in 2032. For perspective, note that 13 years ago we were watching the Enron trials, Italy won the World Cup after Zinedine Zidane's head-butt and "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray.

As we melt our glaciers and the waters rise around us, may we all live to see the expiration of Harper's new contract, one that by its conclusion won't seem anywhere near as spectacular as it may right now.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​