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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Phillies finally get their man

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 28

After playing hard to get all winter, Bryce Harper finally said “yes.”

According to numerous reports, the coveted free agent outfielder agreed to join the Phillies for a contract reportedly worth $330 million over 13 years. The Phillies have not confirmed the signing, but the contract reportedly includes neither a no-trade clause nor an opportunity for Harper to opt out of his contract after a specified number of years. In other words, unless both sides agree to move on, Harper, 26, could be a Phillie for the rest of his career.

That’s quite a commitment from the Phillies to Harper and from Harper to the Phillies. The $330 million is the most lucrative contract in American sports history. By agreeing to a 13-year contract without an opt-out clause, Harper is committing to being a Phillie until nearly his 40th birthday.

At times during this offseason, it might have seemed as if Harper wouldn’t sign before his 40th birthday. the process dragged on all winter. With agent Scott Boras determined to get Harper the richest contract in baseball history, he had to wait until after free agent infielder Manny Machado signed with a team. When Machado signed with the Padres for 10 years and $300 million last week, it set a standard for Harper to exceed. The eight-year, $260 million contract extension third baseman Nolan Arenado signed with the Rockies also helped set the market for Harper.

Phillies fans had reason for concern as the Dodgers and Giants made last-ditches pitches to secure Harper’s talents this week after Phillies majority owner John Middleton flew out of Las Vegas on Sunday without Harper’s signature on a contract. Fans and talk-show hosts had even started to speak as if Harper wasn’t signing with the Phillies — and there certainly were some nervous moments this week. But the Dodgers and Giants apparently couldn’t match the money the Phillies were willing to commit to Harper.

Harper instantly transforms the Phillies. He transforms their lineup and he transforms expectations for this team. Anything less than a division championship and deep run into the playoffs will be considered a disappointment.

The good news is that Harper won’t have to elevate the Phillies by himself. They added shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and catcher J.T. Realmuto to the lineup earlier this offseason. Those three players and Harper completely alter the Phillies lineup.

Harper only batted .249 last season, but he led the major leagues with 130 walks. When he was making contact, Harper hit 34 home runs and accumulated 100 RBI. Those are numbers that wouldn’t look bad for the Phillies this season. With the revamped lineup, however, Harper should put up even better numbers, especially if he bats third, with Rhys Hoskins hitting behind him.

During his seven seasons with the Nationals, Harper batted .279 with 184 home runs and 521 RBI. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the NL MVP in 2015.

However, Harper has yet to win a playoff series during his career. The Phillies certainly hope that changes this season. In fact, they must have their sights set higher than winning one series.

That’s what happens to expectations when you get your man.

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