While the free agent market proved slow to develop for many players, action has since picked up in recent days with the San Diego Padres’ signing of Manny Machado. 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, including big market powerhouses such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
More serious suitors eventually emerged, however, with a pair of divisional rivals in the Philadelphia Phillies and incumbent Washington Nationals jumping out ahead of the pack.
As speculation grew that Harper had a preference to sign with the Dodgers, the 26-year-old superstar has instead opted to sign with the Phillies, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred:
Breaking: Bryce to the Phillies
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Harper signed for 13 years and $330 million, which is the richest contract in sports history:
Bryce Harper’s deal with the Phillies will be for 13 years and $330M, league sources tell ESPN. It will not include any opt-outs.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 28, 2019
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).
To pry Harper away from Washington is a significant coup for a Phillies team that hasn’t advanced to the postseason since 2011. The club has been busy this winter, previously upgrading their roster with the likes of Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto.