In meetings that led him to become the highest paid athlete in the history of team sports, Bryce Harper kept coming back to one word: family. The endless and prolonged nature of his free agents' odyssey, nearly four months long, has never changed that. He knew what it was worth. He knew that the teams who courted him knew it too. He wanted to be paid, of course, but he also wanted to feel as if his next team shared an unfailing commitment.
So, when Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton flew his private jet from Florida to Las Vegas a week ago, he was not alone. Middleton was accompanied by his wife, Leigh. They wanted to show Harper and his wife, Kayla, that their family also counted for them – that they would be dealing with years and money by acting to meet their needs.
That alone did not convince Harper to accept the massive $ 330 million 13-year deal he approved on Thursday with the Phillies. She informed other elements of the contract, namely the absence of a non-participation clause and the presence of a complete non-exchange clause. While the opt-outs were discussed during the negotiations, Harper finally declared that he did not want them. If he wanted to convince others to join him after championships in Philadelphia, players had to know that he would go nowhere.
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And so happened a record number of years, a record number of dollars and a 26-year-old defensive player, voted MVP MVP, coming out of the only team he knew, the Washington Nationals, for his rival of the National League East. The signing, which will become official at the end of a physical set Friday, could tip the scales of the division towards the Phillies, who have managed a busy season already with the most recognizable player of the game.
The transaction is mutually beneficial. Philadelphia adds an average bat to a line of products that already includes Rhys Hoskins and a pair of dangerous commercial acquisitions, receiver J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura. He manages to sell tickets and sponsorships around Harper. And since the average annual value of the transaction is $ 25.4 million, the operator has the opportunity to spend more for the next few reasons and not run the risk of exceeding the luxury tax threshold. In other words: yes, an outdoor field with Mike Trout, originally from Harper and the Philadelphia area, is quite realistic.
Bryce Harper heading to Philadelphia, this is what Phillies training this season might look like:
Harper wins not only by becoming the highest paid sports team athlete in history, but by spending 81 games a year in a stadium that suits him perfectly. While Harper owns all-terrain power, the vast majority of his 184 career circuits have gone on his side, and Citizens Bank Park's right-center power aisle is 369 feet and his right-field line 330 feet. His legacy has only been written by a third, and the rest is prepared to include flying bullets in the second and third decks in Philadelphia.
Harper could have gone to San Francisco, his willingness to give him a double-digit contract convinced the Phillies not to compete, or Los Angeles, where the Dodgers were ready to offer him a record average annual value and the opportunity to retire after maybe two years. Harper could easily have surpassed Zack Greinke's record $ 34.4 million annual average value with a short-term contract and another apple bite before turning 30 years old.
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True or false, it did not please Harper. It did not matter that he just finished a season during which his defense against the ground for pedestrians sank his victories in advance over his replacement and had the opportunity to play a few years for excellent Dodgers team. season and hit an even bigger bonanza of a deal. He wanted security and what went with it.
For now, he holds the title of Biggest Deal Ever. It will receive $ 30 million this year (including $ 20 million in signing bonus), $ 26 million for the next nine years and $ 22 million for the last three seasons. His understanding of the record could be short-lived if the Los Angeles Angels try to prevent Trout from becoming independent after the 2020 season. Surpassing the $ 325 million deal signed in 2014 by Giancarlo Stanton was important enough for Harper to be willing to miss a spring training of nearly three weeks to make sure this happens.
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Bryce Harper has finally found his new baseball home by signing with the Phillies. What should fantasy managers expect now that the young star is registered to play at Citizens Bank Park?
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At the same time, the concept of dedication, loyalty, all that is family has appeared quite often in meetings with teams that they should take it seriously. The Harpers used to say that this commitment was irreproachable.
Who, for the moment, it is. Harper will be smiling at his press conference. Phillies officials will teleport. The first day is always happy forever. They will do everything to not smear icing the cakes on the nose one on the other. Then comes the difficult part. A wedding between star and team is not easy, and it is particularly difficult when we guarantee this star $ 330 million in a market that does not suffer failure.
At some point, the link will be tested and the vow questioned because no relationship can be perfect. And when that happens, they will remember that the old horse chestnut – you can not choose your family – does not apply to baseball. Bryce Harper chose hers. And he can only hope that it is for the right reasons.