In the seemingly never-ending free agency saga of outfielder Bryce Harper, another new wrinkle was reported Tuesday morning.
Angelo Cataldi, the host of the morning show on Philadelphia’s WIP, said on his Twitter account, as well as on the air Tuesday that the Phillies have offered a major deal for Harper and that the player is seeking the ability to opt out of his contract after three years.
After asking listeners if they “want to know the real story of what’s going on with Bryce Harper and the Phillies” and saying that he got the scoop “last night,” Cataldi shared later in the morning what he had supposedly heard.
“Phillies are in a staredown with agent Scott Boras over Bryce Harper’s demand for a three-year opt-out in the 10-year, $330-million deal.”
The opt-out clause means that Harper could choose to exit the contract after three years.
Some caveats could apply here. While Cataldi was a newspaper sportswriter for many years, he’s now a radio host and is not known for breaking a lot of news stories himself, although his show frequently hosts established breaking news reporters from both local and national levels. No other reporter has said anything about Harper wanting a three-year opt-out from the Phillies, and at this point in the Harper talks, who knows what is true and what is a smokescreen?
That said, the story could be plausible. A 10-year, $330 million deal would meet the reported objectives of Harper and Boras to receive a long-term deal, the largest contract in baseball history, and one that overtakes the 10-year, $300 million deal agreed to earlier this month by Manny Machado with the San Diego Padres.
Column: Why Phillies owner John Middleton should set a deadline on his offer to Bryce Harper ASAP. https://t.co/qVwNUsF8De— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 25, 2019
If Harper has any apprehensions about committing to Philadelphia, the three-year opt-out gives him a chance leave town early if he wants, and doing so after three years would allow Harper to re-enter free agency at age 29, when he will presumably still be in his prime. Going into free agency again after the 2021 season would also give Harper a chance to sign a new contract that overtakes whatever deal another superstar, Mike Trout, gets when he goes into free agency in 2020.
It’s also plausible that the Phillies would be reluctant to allow Harper to opt out only after three years when they’re willing to sign him for 10 years. Manny Machado, in his contract with San Diego, was given an opt-out clause after five years.
The Phillies have been the favorite for Harper for most of his time as a free agent, although the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly entered the bidding over the weekend, per CBS Sports.