May 1, 2016
Philadelphia Phillies Rumors: Bryce Harper Could Sign With The Phillies After The 2018 MLB Season

With Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper set to become a free agent after the 2018 season, rumors are heating up regarding his potential destinations. While the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to be one of the worst teams in the entire MLB this year, they have been a pleasant surprise for Phillies' fans. Even though the Phillies are unlikely to continue their hot start, their future appears to be bright. While the decision has not yet been made, the latest rumors are saying that the Phillies have a real chance to sign Harper in a few years.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the New York Yankees are also rumored to be in the running to sign Harper. While the Yankees are traditionally known as an organization that spends a lot of money in free agency, they have been quiet over the past few years. The Phillies, also an organization that has spent a lot in the past, have also not been among the biggest spenders in free agency in recent seasons. Since Harper is likely to receive the largest contract in MLB history, it is smart for teams that are in the running for his services to not tie up all of their salary cap money.

How much is Harper going to command? While the exact figures are unknown, NBC Sports believes that it could be as much as $500 million. Even though that sounds like an unreasonable figure for one player, and it might be, Harper's situation is unique. Most huge contracts like this turn out to be bad for the organization after a few years. The problem is most MLB players do not reach free agency until their late twenties or early thirties. Since Harper is still only 23-years-old, and one of the best players in the league, he is going to be 26-years-old after the 2018 season.

At only 26-years-old, Harper is still going to be getting better. Signing a young, and still improving, player to a 10-year contract may not be the worst thing in the world for the Phillies. While the Phillies were recently burned by some large contracts, the majority of those players were aging and on the downside on their careers. Harper can be the face of the Phillies' franchise for the next decade or longer.

ESPN agrees with the idea that the Phillies have an excellent chance to sign Harper.

"If Harper follows the same path as almost every other client of agent Scott Boras, he will not sign with the Nationals before becoming a free agent after the 2018 season. If Harper is like most other Boras clients, he will go into the open market and be incredibly well-positioned to be the centerpiece of a bidding war between the Nationals, the Yankees, the Phillies -- who lead the world in payroll flexibility as they build a monster -- and perhaps other teams."
While Harper may be loyal to the Washington Nationals, it appears as though he is going to sign with the team that offers him the most money. The Nationals have increased their payroll in recent seasons, but it is unknown whether or not they would be able to afford Harper's massive contract demands. While other large market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox remain possibilities, it appears as though the Phillies and Yankees may be at the top of the list.

Bryce Harper Philadelphia Phillies
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]The Phillies are not ready to compete in 2016, but the odds of them being a playoff contender in 2018 and 2019 are strong. After trading veterans including Cole Hamels and Chase Utley, the Phillies are finally able to develop their young players. With a solid farm system, the Phillies could be a very attractive destination for Harper.

A lot is going to change over the next few years, but rumors linking Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies will continue. While the Phillies may have to pay Harper upwards of $500 million for a 12-year contract, he may actually be worth it.

[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]