Thursday finally saw 26-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper pen a deal to end his free agency and join a team. Harper will be headed to Philadelphia, where he will become a part of the Phillies with less than a month until the regular season kicks off.
The massive deal is reportedly going to earn Harper a record breaking $330 million over the next 13 years, and apparently has no opt-out option. His former team, the Washington Nationals, were also in the running to secure Harper for a long-term contract, but the management announced late last week that he had already turned down a $300 million, 10-year deal with them last year.
But now that the announcement has finally come that Harper will be plying his trade in nearby Philadelphia, the teams will be meeting fairly regularly, and the Nationals have responded to the news of Harper’s contract.
According to the Washington Post, manager Dave Martinez learned of the news at the bottom of the fifth inning during a Nationals Spring Training loss to the Red Sox.
“He deserves it. He’s one of the best young players in the game. I’m glad I got to spend a year with him. We’ll always be close. He makes our division a little bit tougher. But I wish him all the best, I really do. Good for him.”
Pitcher Max Scherzer had said just before hearing the news that he was following the buzz surrounding Harper, and had high hopes that his former teammate would decide to sign with the Phillies.
“I mean the news is breaking as we speak, so. . . I hope he gets a 10-year deal. And if it is with the Phillies, Hey, we get to face him. It’ll be fun.'”
After he was told what Harper had managed to get, Scherzer was pleased to hear the team was so confident in him and putting their money where their mouth is.
Given that the 13-year deal does not include an opt-out option, provided Harper stays healthy, he will be seeing a lot of his old teammates. According to the Washington Post, the two sides are scheduled to meet almost 250 times in the next 13 years. The first of those clashes will be taking place in just over a month at the beginning of April.
Nationals fans had been desperate to keep Harper in the nation’s capital, with one bakery even offering him a lifetime supply of free donuts if he would stay.
Dear @Bharper3407,@Chef_Christine made these for you today. We are #MadeInDC just like you and we would love to keep it that way. Our offer still stands: doughnuts for life if you stay with the @Nationals!
District Doughnut pic.twitter.com/652Flsuos4
— District Doughnut (@DCDoughnut) February 26, 2019
The Nationals were the team to bring Harper into the big leagues, and he debuted for them at the age of 19 in 2012.
Unfortunately, management confirmed they were long out of the running to keep Harper last week.
The other two sides in it until just a few hours ago were the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the latter of which suddenly and surprisingly jumped into the race over the weekend. It was believed that they had an offer that could compete with the Phillies, despite originally only being touted as a short-term option for Harper.