Bryce Harper on potential contract extension, move to first base

Bryce Harper on potential contract extension, move to first base


CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper has eight years remaining on the 13-year, $330 million contract he signed in 2019. He says he hopes to extend that commitment at some point.

“Obviously, I want to be here a long time,” Harper said Sunday morning at BayCare Ballpark. “We’ll see what happens.”

Harper arrived at the ballpark on Sunday for his sixth Spring Training with the Phillies. It will be unlike any other. The Phillies said in November that Harper will be their everyday first baseman — not only this season, but for as long he plays for the Phillies, whether it’s through 2031 (when his current contract expires at 38 years old) or into his early 40s, if he gets the extension that he wants.

“I don’t think I’ll move back out to right,” Harper said. “I don’t. But never say never.”

Harper volunteered to play first base last year, following Rhys Hoskins’ season-ending ACL injury in March. He debuted in July, and he played well, finishing with +3 Outs Above Average, according to Statcast, and one Defensive Run Saved, according to FanGraphs.

The Phillies believe he could win a Gold Glove there.

So, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Harper met shortly after Game 7 of the 2023 NLCS. They talked about his future in the field.

“I think we had a pretty good conversation,” Harper said. “Me and Dombo, we sat down and he said this would be great for our organization. And I said, ‘OK.’ I wanted them to know that I was on board with anything they wanted to do — if that was right field, if that was first base. And I told them that. I said, ‘If you want me in right field, I’ll play right. If you want me at first, I’ll play first base.’ I think collectively, they said, ‘First base is where we want you.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll do everything I can to be there and that’s what I want to do.’”

Besides learning a new position on a team with World Series hopes, Harper has exceeded every expectation as the face of the franchise and one of baseball’s biggest stars. In five seasons with the Phillies, he has slashed .284/.395/.536 with 122 home runs, 368 RBIs, a .931 OPS and a 149 OPS+. Out of 151 qualified hitters over the past five years (minimum 1,750 plate appearances), he ranks fourth in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage and sixth in OPS.

He won the 2021 National League MVP Award. He delivered one of the most iconic moments in franchise history with his “Bedlam at the Bank” game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 2022 NLCS.

So, perhaps it was no surprise that Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, said Harper wanted an extension at the Winter Meetings in December.

“There’s no better metric than when [owner] John [Middleton] himself says that it’s a great bargain,” Boras said. “So that’s certainly something that we appreciate him saying and I think all of us know it’s true.”

When Harper signed his $330 million deal, it was the most lucrative guaranteed contract in North American sports history. Only seven MLB players have signed larger contracts since then, but the average annual value of Harper’s deal has dropped to 46th at $25,384,615, according to Cot’s Contracts. Harper could have insisted on an opt-out in the deal, which would have forced a renegotiation, like Padres third baseman Manny Machado did in 2023. But Harper did not want one.

“I haven’t really thought too much about that,” said Harper. “I want to be here for a long time — playing into my 40s. I mean, that’s the biggest thing for me. So I want to get that done.”

Harper said he and Boras have talked to Dombrowski about an extension. Based on that, it appears those discussions haven’t reached Middleton.

Dombrowski has said little about this. Asked last week, he declined comment. Asked at the Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he has never renegotiated a Major League contract with multiple years remaining on the deal.

“It’s not something that catches me off guard by any means, the proclamation,” Dombrowski said. “But other than that … to me, [the] priority is finishing the Winter Meetings, finishing our roster and all that. There’s a long time until we reach that point. I don’t want to just brush it off by any means, but he’s welcome to the thought process and the feelings that they have.”

Harper was asked Sunday if he would be OK if an extension did not happen in the short term, or if he felt an urgency to get it done.

“I mean, I understand there’s other guys to take care of, right?” he said. “Understanding that Wheels [Zack Wheeler] is a big one for us right now. But, you know, contract negotiations [happen] throughout the season and things like that. So, we’ll see what Scott and Dave can come up with.”

In the meantime, Harper will continue to work to help the Phillies win another World Series. They fell two wins short in 2022. They fell five wins short last year.

“This is a window that we have to win in,” Harper said. “Our ownership deserves that. Our fans deserve that. Dombrowski deserves that as well. And we do too. So, we got to go out there and play our game and play Philly baseball. And we’ll see what happens.”


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top