After passing through Winter Meetings and into the new year, Bryce Harper’s ongoing free agency became a compelling subplot to the beginning of 2019 Spring Training.
The situation grew more intriguing when the Los Angeles Dodgers jumped back in the bidding for Harper’s services, meeting with him in Las Vegas as he got close to making a decision.
Many around the sport reportedly believed Harper would choose the Dodgers if they made a competitive offer. They apparently did so, offering the former MVP a four-year, $180 million deal that would have given him the highest annual salary in MLB history.
However, Harper ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Phillies instead for 13 years and $330 million.
Despite Harper’s rumored interest in the Dodgers, the Phillies’ offer more closely fit what he sought, via Andy McCullough and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:
Harper sought the long-term security offered by the Phillies over the short-term enticement provided by Dodgers. “Bryce has real goals,” Boras told The Times. “He wanted to get the longest contract he could get. He wanted to stay in one city. He wanted to look for a ballpark he hit the ball well in, saw the ball well in, and a franchise that was successful and had the wherewithal to give him a chance to win every year.”
The Dodgers obviously fit some of those needs, as they enter the 2019 season as the favorites to win their seventh straight National League West title.
Since Andrew Friedman took over as president of baseball operations after the 2014 season, the team has hesitated to give out long-term contracts. Kenta Maeda’s eight-year deal remains the longest of the Friedman era in terms of years. However, it contained little guaranteed money and was heavily incentivized.
Neither Friedman nor anyone else on the Dodgers could control other factors that Boras laid out, though. Harper owns a good-but-not-great .242/.307/.364 batting line in 75 career plate appearances at Dodger Stadium.
At Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park, his new home stadium, those numbers jump to .268/.365/.564 over 208 plate appearances.