While the free agent market proved slow to develop for many players, action picked up in recent days, particularly after Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres. His counterpart, Bryce Harper, was next in line to land a mega contract.
Harper had been linked to a handful of teams for much of the offseason, with the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals factoring most prominently in his sweepstakes. Though as his free agency saga wore on, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants became involved.
Their emergence as potential landing spots for Harper came on the heels of the Phillies reportedly emerging as the frontrunner. They maintained their pole position by agreeing to terms with Harper on a 13-year, $330 million contract.
Although the Dodgers reportedly caused the Phillies to be concerned, their pursuit of Harper did not include extending to 10 years in a contract offer, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 28, 2019
Even as offers were nonexistent, Harper and his representatives remained insistent on only being interested in signing a long-term deal that was 10-plus years. Ultimately, Harper’s contract with the Phillies is the richest in sports history.
In what was considered a down year for Harper’s standards, he still managed to hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 doubles, 34 home runs, 100 RBI and a Major League-best 130 walks over 695 plate appearances for the Nationals last season (159 games).
The Dodgers had been loosely tied to Harper after sending outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Cincinnati Reds, but their interest was believed to have decreased with the signing of A.J. Pollock and limited to a short-term contract.