Commentary

Harper a Phillie in 2019: Make it Happen

harper wapo

Bryce Harper, image- Washington Post

Bryce Harper: baseball’s chosen one, bad-boy, advocate of “make baseball fun again”, but future Philadelphia Phillie?

No way, not a chance.

In 2016, this scenario is just a fantasy but some think there is a chance Harper, baseball’s most feared hitter, could end up in Phillies red pinstripes.

Who wouldn’t want that?

According to the website OnlineGambling.lv, Vegas has given the Phillies a 10/1 shot of landing Harper when he hits free agency after the 2018 season.

So you’re saying there’s a chance.

The teams that are listed ahead of the Phillies are: the New York Yankees (10/3 odds), Los Angeles Dodgers (4/1), Nationals (7/1 odds), and the Boston Red Sox (9/1 odds).

Harper’s agent Scott Boras loves to test the free agent market with each of his clients and milks every last drop of money out of the team they sign with so the Nationals locking Harper up early might not happen. This is despite the fact that they locked up Stephen Strasburg, a Boras client, this week to a seven-year $175 million extension.

Harper is on a path to become the highest-paid athlete in history, as the $400 million mark is in in his sights. Is he worth the money? So far this season he has shown that he has not missed a beat from his MVP season in 2015. He has already slugged 10 home runs, drove in 27 runs, and has an OPS of 1.035.

So why would Harper ever come to Philadelphia?

Contenders Again

By the time Harper is finishing out his contract in D.C., the Nationals will be slowing down as the young Phillies we see right now start to reach the peak of their careers. Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Cesar Hernandez will already be seasoned veterans. A surprise season like this will create a team chemistry that hopefully will last for a while. Even younger prospects like J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro will hopefully have at least one or two major league seasons under their belt by 2019. This may be the perfect team for Harper to join, become the face of the franchise and bring a World Series parade back down Broad Street.

Harper would fit in well with teammates who are close to his age and just as hungry as he is. The blue-collar attitude Harper has is just what a young team needs and what Philadelphia fans salivate for in an athlete.

The Money

Last year the Phillies signed a deal worth $2.5 billion over 25 years with Comcast SportsNet for the official broadcasting rights of the team. This deal certainly gives the team more flexibility in terms of payroll and handing out larger contracts. If all goes according to plan the Phillies can keep their payroll relatively low for the next two seasons as they shed off expensive deals with guys like Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Matt Harrison.

The total team payroll this season is $107.6 million, with the Phillies outside of the MLB top ten in salary for the first time since 2003.  A budget at this level or lower following 2018 will leave the door wide open for a mega-deal with the coveted slugger.  $400 million seems realistic for the team with the new TV contract and the low payroll.  The Phillies have risen to the occasion in the past, hopefully they could recreate that magic again under Matt Klentak.

The Ball Park

The Bank is one of the smaller parks in baseball. Harper loves to swing for the fences. Is there need for further explanation?

Here’s some more if you need it.

In his career at Citizens Bank Park, the 23-year-old sports a 1.077 OPS in 31 games.  In that stretch, he’s launched 11 homers and driven in 23 runs.  Over the course of an 81-game home schedule, that’s 23 round trippers and 60 RBI, but he’s getting stronger and better at the plate.  So, you can increase those numbers when projecting how he’d perform at home in Philadelphia.

The dimensions of the park play to his favor, as he hits home runs to all fields. The 330-foot foul pole and 369-foot power alley in right field are favorable to his pull side, where all 10 of his home runs have gone this year. Also who could forget the mammoth shots he drove to deep center at the end of last season?

Plain and simple…Haper would rake at CBP.

While there may be some fans that dislike the concept of seeking out a hated arch enemy to join their team’s ranks, there’s no reason that the Phillies, on their soon-to-be-contenders path with their large wallets and an attractive facility, shouldn’t be courting the top offensive player in baseball when the time is right.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when the Phillies nabbed the elite pitcher that all the big spenders in baseball were after?  Things are lining up nicely for this team to do some significant free agent shopping again.

 

Phillies Nation’s Jay Floyd contributed to this piece

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