Shockwaves were sent through the MLB when Bryce Harper decided to sign with the New York Yankees Feb. 28. After three months of increasing anticipation and endless speculation, Harper finally signed, agreeing to a record-breaking 13-year $330 million deal.
The deal came as a shock to many as it was long rumored that Harper was leaning towards signing with a small market team to avoid some of the media scrutiny players usually face. All off-season, Harper has been connected to a variety of small market teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Sources close to Harper said he liked the idea of both of those cities, since they offered privacy and protection from the national spotlight.
On top of that, he was known to be an avid Philly cheesesteak eater. The Yankees were not seen as a team to sign Harper as they already have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton who before Harper, had the largest contracts in sports.
“We only want two muscle-guys to hit home runs in our line-up. We’ve met our quota,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said at the winter meetings.
Still, with the surprise move, the Yankees are now the heavy favorites to win the World Series after signing Harper, moving in front of the Boston Red Sox who were previously a +750 favorite.
Harper’s signing with the Yankees potentially makes the Phillies offseason a failure. They already missed out on the other star free agent this offseason, Manny Machado, and to add Harper to the list of swing and misses is overwhelming for fans.
“It’s been almost 13 months since this city has had a championship. How are we supposed to survive?” One fan commented on the Phillies’ message board.
Their disappointment in the results of free agency comes after Phillies owner John Middleton said back in November that the team may be “a little stupid” with the money that it spends during free agency.
In Harper, the Yankees are getting an established superstar who has been in the league since 2012 after being the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals. Harper’s career is highlighted by a .279 batting average, six all star appearances, the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player award and 184 career home runs.