Philadelphia. Really, dude?
It is hard to understand why Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies, but he did. There are stories out there about “family” and other such stuff, yet it had to have come down to money when Scott Boras is your agent. Everyone knows his greed.
Will it be a mistake for Philly? No. Will it be a mistake for Harper? Only time will tell. It is next to impossible to understand why the six-time All-Star outfielder spurned both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants in this situation—particularly the Dodgers.
Harper is a unique talent, in that he is 26 and perhaps just entering his prime as a hitter. He already has exceptional plate discipline (.388 career on-base percentage) and outstanding power (.512 career slugging percentage). It is difficult to see those skills fading over the next ten seasons, even if his defense may leave something to be desired—and that what first base is for, eventually.
So why not sign with the Dodgers, the two-time defending National League champs? If Harper wants to win, he could have taken the L.A. money (even on a short-term deal), won a World Series, and then gone out on the market again for an even bigger contract than the one he just signed with Philly.
The Phillies haven’t been to the postseason since 2011, and coincidentally, that was the last time the team posted a winning record, too. We get it: The ballpark there is small, and Harper probably hit 50 home runs a season over the next few years.
Yet playing in a division with the up-and-coming Atlanta Braves—who did make the postseason last year—and the often-competition New York Mets, not to mention his old team in Washington, D.C., seems like an uphill fight for Harper if he wants to win.
The Dodgers also made more sense since L.A. is very close to Harper’s home in Las Vegas. Add in the star-making power of the City of Angels, and we almost start to wonder if Harper is afraid of the spotlight.
He once said when he was 16 years old that he wanted to play in pinstripes, too, but the New York Yankees did not even really enter this conversation.
Of course, in Philly, if Harper struggles, he will hear it from the fans. We all know the city’s sports nuts once booed Santa Claus, after all. And if Harper does not bear gifts frequently enough, he will want to re-consider that no-trade clause.
Even the Giants made more sense for Harper, despite a bunch of questions about the organization. From top to bottom, the S.F. franchise seems a mess right now: The CEO just got busted for physically assaulting his wife in public; the manager is retiring; the minimally talented roster is aging.
But the Giants have seemed committed to winning since the mid-1980s in a way the Phillies may have not been, and Harper could have been the centerpiece of a rebuild, much like another famous outfielder who joined the team in 1993.
Perhaps Harper did not want comparisons to that other left-handed slugger who once roamed the outfields at PacBell/SBC/AT&T/Oracle Park. That would make the most sense for why Harper avoided the Giants, but all in all, San Francisco is much nicer than Philadelphia, and it is closer to Vegas, too.
Harper will get his HRs and money in Philadelphia, and maybe he will win a World Series there, too. It is possible we are wrong in this assessment; only time will tell. However, in the meantime, Harper missed out on a lot by staying on the Least Coast instead of moving out to the Best Coast.