With the constant turntable of Bryce Harper rumors revolving, it seems as though the Philadelphia Phillies have established themselves, at a minimum, as a constant threat in signing either Harper or the other free agency-headliner Manny Machado.
While reports focused on the Phillies’ interest in Machado at the beginning of free agency, it seems as though Harper is more likely to end up in the city of Brotherly Love. Would he even be a fit in Philly? Harper would fit anywhere, that should not even be a question.
But how well would he fit next to other offseason moves the franchise has already made?
Up to this point, Andrew McCutchen was signed, Jean Segura was acquired from the Seattle Mariners and David Robertson was signed to shore up the bullpen. These additions result in $34.25 million in additional salary, putting the team a shade over $115 million overall, a relatively small number.
That salary number, coupled with the need for a headliner, adds up perfectly for Harper to join the Phillies. While his supporting cast pieces would not rival those of his former home the Washington Nationals, his opportunity to grow without the constant pressure of a huge target being put on him could potentially speak volumes for his production.
Bryce Harper would also become a divisional rival of the Nationals, which would create an interesting storyline that would, unfortunately, dominate offseason chatter throughout the league.
Concerning finances, Harper’s AAV would certainly jump the current highest-paid player on the team, underperforming starter Jake Arrieta. With the 33-year-old earning $25 million for his efforts, Harper’s deal would most certainly average out to be around $30-$35 million per year.
The current outfield structure is a bit murky, as McCutchen will slot into right field, and pesky Odubel Herrera will captain the outfield from center. With Harper being a right fielder, would he be open to sliding over to left? Or would McCutchen become the person who would have to move?
Assuming McCutchen is comfortable with playing left, it would be assumed that he would slide over from right to left to open up a spot for Harper. Both Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams would see a downtick in playing time too, as their plate appearances would dwindle down to pinch-hitting and occasional Sunday day game starts.
Harper would mesh well with the young team as well, as Philly boasts a plethora of under-30 players. His outgoing nature could potentially clash with some of the elder team members, but his on-field performance would quickly quell any issues veterans may have with how he carries himself.
A report came out today about how the Phillies have had talks about creating a ‘Big 3,’ combining Bryce Harper with Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.
This team could handle all three salaries, which would add roughly around $30 million to the payroll. This team would still be under the luxury tax threshold, but it would be butting up against $200 million when it is all said and done.
A big yet underrated aspect of the franchise’s financial flexibility is being able to move on from Carlos Santana in the offseason, as he was offloaded back to the Cleveland Indians after signing a disastrous long term, expensive deal that did anything but pan out in his first year. After that deal was made, the realization that the team could spend a ton of money this offseason was actually a possible thought and not just talk from the ownership group trying to drive up more fan interest.
The Phillies would benefit immensely from adding Harper to their team, and coupling that with an already busy offseason of additions and subtractions, this team could stand to make some noise and jostle for playoff position come August. Bryce Harper could become the team’s biggest star since Ryan Howard swung for the fences and mashed his way into Phillies’ history.