Outfielder Bryce Harper on Thursday ended perhaps the longest free-agent pursuit in baseball history, as he agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies for a reported 13 years and $330 million. The deal will keep Harper in Philadelphia through 2031 when he will be 39-years-old.
The deal breaks several records. It’s the largest overall contract in baseball history, overtaking Giancarlo Stanton’s deal with the Miami Marlins in 2014. It’s the largest free-agent contract, besting the deal agreed to by Manny Machado with the San Diego Padres earlier this month. It’s also tied with Stanton’s for the longest baseball contract.
The contract is also, like all contracts in Major League Baseball, fully guaranteed. That means Harper gets that money no matter what unless he decides to retire early. The deal also contains no opt-out clauses but a full no-trade clause, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Harper’s contract also becomes the largest ever in organized team sports. However, boxer Canelo Álvarez last year agreed to a $365 million deal with streaming service DAZN for 11 fights over five years, per The Guardian.
Per a Fox Business list, the next-largest contract in sports history is that of Stanton, who was later traded by Miami to the New York Yankees. Machado is next, followed by Arenado, and then a pair of contracts signed by retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez. He signed the first with the Texas Rangers in 2000 for $252 million, was traded to the New York Yankees four years later, and after opting out in 2007 signed another Yankees deal for over $200 million.
The Bryce Harper deal is reportedly worth $330 million over 13 years.— Philly.com (@phillydotcom) February 28, 2019
He instantly joins Pete Rose, Jim Thome, and Cliff Lee as the biggest free-agent signings in team history. #Philly https://t.co/WmrWcmGlgN
In the NBA, which has a salary cap and maximum contract levels for individual players, the current highest-paid player by total contract is James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who signed a four-year deal for $228 million in 2017, per Sports Illustrated.
The NFL has even further salary restrictions, while also using a salary cap and not entirely guaranteeing contracts. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers signed the largest NFL contract in history for $180 million last August, per the Sydney Morning Herald. Of that, $100 million was guaranteed. Most of the time in the NFL, the highest-paid player is whichever star quarterback has signed a multiyear contract extension most recently.
In 2014, the largest contract ever in international soccer was given to Gareth Bale of Real Madrid for $146 million over five years. Real Madrid was also required to pay a transfer fee of over $100 million to Bale’s previous team, Tottenham Hotspur.