This past offseason’s Major League Baseball free agency class was one of the most anticipated and discussed, and while it took longer than expected, the headliners of the class, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, ended up making out pretty well when they signed respective contracts.
Harper inked a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, which is the largest contract in North American Sports history. His deal, shockingly, does not include any opt outs.
Machado was not far behind, signing with the San Diego Padres for 10 years and $300 million.
Many teams sought out Harper’s services during the course of the winter, flying to Las Vegas to meet with him, his family and agent Scott Boras.
One club that showed some interest — particularly in a short-term contract if he was willing to sign it — was the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was rumored last December that the Dodgers flew a contingent out to meet with Harper, and included in that was part-owner Magic Johnson.
“My favorite was the time we met with Magic Johnson and the Dodgers,” Bryce says. “That was a good one. We never met with him.”
At the time, Johnson’s believed involvement excited the fanbase as he was a handful of months removed from playing a key role in the Lakers signing LeBron James.
The Dodgers did wind up meeting with Harper during Spring Training as manager Dave Roberts, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, CEO Stan Kasten and owner Mark Walter left Arizona to fly to Las Vegas the week before he signed with the Phillies.
Ultimately, Harper wanted the longest and most lucrative contract possible, which the Dodgers were unwilling to do. Their offer was believed to be for around three or four years and potentially up to $45 million annually.