It’s really happening.
A superstar player decided to sign in Philadelphia.
And not just sign in Philadelphia: OF Bryce Harper COMMITTED.
He committed the next 13 years to the Phillies, both the franchise and the city of Philadelphia.
There are no opt-outs in his contract. He has a full no-trade clause in his deal. And according to agent Scott Boras, he was instructed to find Harper the last stop of his career.
Of course, the Phillies will shell out $330 million over the next thirteen years. Yet, that number is deceiving, considering that the Padres handed 3B Manny Machado $300 million over 10 years or a term that is shorter by three seasons.
Harper’s deal ensures that the Phillies will continue to have payroll flexibility into the coming seasons, especially for one homegrown outfielder in Los Angeles that fans have been clamoring for for years.
And while I’m in full celebrate the Phillies got their superstar mode, an important thought crossed my mind: Phillies’ General Manager Matt Klentak may have had the best off season in MLB history. And it’s not even over yet.
Think of this:
The Phillies finished 80-82 last season, after leading the division for the majority of the year.
This off season, the team improved five positions both defensively and offensively (catcher, first base, shortstop, corner outfield spots), added a strong reliever to the back of the bullpen (David Robertson) and picked up a few lefty arms that may be key down the stretch (James Pazos and Jose Alvarez).
While they may not have the strongest rotation in the NL East, the team is returning P Aaron Nola, who finished 3rd in NL Cy Young voting last year, and P Jake Arrieta, who is expected to have a much better season in 2019. P Jerad Eickhoff is returning from injury after making only one appearance last year, and could be a wild card for the team.
Ultimately, the team looks to line up as follows:
- Jean Segura, SS
- Andrew McCutchen, LF
- Bryce Harper, RF
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- Maikel Franco, 3B
- Odubel Herrera, CF
- Pitcher’s spots
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B
- Aaron Nola, SP
- Jake Arrieta, SP
- Jerad Eickhoff, SP
- Nick Pivetta, SP
- Vince Velasquez
As it stands, the team has to be the favorite in the NL East, and ready to make a huge leap.
But there’s one target that could make this team a World Series contender:
SP Dallas Keuchel
Keuchel, 31, is still seeking his payday in free agency, after having a spectacular career in Houston. He won a Cy Young award with the team, and is a notorious ground ball pitcher, which would fit perfectly in Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies only weakness at this point is the rotation, which lacks a left-handed option.
Klentak and Co. may have already completed the best off season in history. Adding Keuchel cements that, and takes the team to the upper echelon of baseball.