After a long wait, the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are finally over. (FINALLY!). The Phillies have signed the former #1 overall pick to a contract worth $330 million deal over the course of 13 years. The deal also does not include an opt-out.
Harper will get an AAV of $25.4 million a year. Far less than the $30 million he would have gotten from the Nats.
The Nationals face the Phillies for the first time this season at home April 2.
Sadly, he will no longer be wearing the red Curly W on his chest anymore. After a long nine years in the Nationals system, his time as the face of the franchise is over.
Harper will be remembered for the hope he gave the Nationals when he was picked first overall in the 2010 draft. He energized the fanbase with his hustle and do-or-die effort every night when he came up in the 2012 season.
Washington Nationals Free Agency Recap
Harper’s only franchise he’s ever known gave it a good run at the end of the season. Mark Lerner and co. offered Harper a 10 year/$300 million deal at the end of the 2018 season. The reported deal reportedly had no-opt outs and many deferrals. Super-agent Scot Boras was consistent all offseason asking teams for an opt-out in year three, after Harp’s age-29 season.
The Nationals were reportedly in the negotiations until Spring Training when team owner Mark Lerner let Nationals Fans know, in an interview with NBC Sports Washington that the Nats had moved on from Harper.
“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end,” owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas Friday. “We’ve moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best.”
That wasn’t the first we had heard a statement from Lerner saying that the Nationals had moved on, though. Lerner said that the Nationals had moved on from Harper in an interview with 106.7 The Fan during Winterfest at Nationals Park in early December.
It seemed that Lerner hadn’t told the full truth to the Nationals Fans during the interview with 106.7 The Fan as team representatives met with Harper in his home in Las Vegas around Christmas time. The meeting with Harper was reported to last around five hours.
After the meeting with Harper, negotiations stalled out and seemed to die until a report in January said that the Nationals were gaining “momentum” in negotiations with Bryce Harper.
After the report in January, nothing really came out in the Nationals favor.
Harper was also offered deals from the Dodgers and Giants.
Nationals Career Recap
The Nationals didn’t really have an identity and were the laughing stock of the league when they drafted Harper in 2010. The closest thing they had to a superstar was Ryan Zimmerman.
Stephen Strasburg was the buzz around the league as he was just making his MLB debut. With Strasburg making his debut and the Nationals drafting the 17-year-old star, the future looked bright.
When Harper was called up in April of the 2012 season, the Nationals had just started winning. Zimmerman had just hit the Disabled List and Harper got his shot because the Nationals needed a left-handed bat. After a 14-4 start to the 2012 season, the Nationals called him up to play in Dodger Stadium.
In his third big league at-bat, Harper looked ready for the Show driving the ball off the center field wall over Matt Kemp’s head. Harper also threw out the winning run at the plate in the top of the ninth. Harper had already proved that he was the real deal in his first ever game at the Major League level.
Harper stole home after being intentionally plunked by Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as a “welcome to the big leagues.” Hamels was suspended for a start by MLB.
The Nationals made the playoffs with an NL leading 98 wins for the first time since their move from Montreal during the 2012 season. After an uneventful first four games in the NLDS against the Cardinals, Harper played an eventful game 5. Harper tripled in the first inning and homered in the third giving the Nats hope and a potiential series win. Of course, we all know what happened, Gio and the bullpen gave up nine runs over the last seven innings.
Harper ended an exciting rookie year with an NL Rookie of the Year of the Year after winning the BWAA vote. Harper finished the year with a .270/.340/.477 line in 139 games while driving the ball out of the ballpark 22 times.
2013 and 2014 Season
Both of these seasons were injury plagued seasons where Harper ran into a wall and hurt his knee and tore his finger ligament while diving into third base.
Harper averaged 109 games played between these two seasons with a .273/.358/.457 with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. Harper missed the all-star game for the first and only time in his career in 2014 after suffering a torn finger ligament early in the season.
Harper also hit two LONG homers in the 2014 NLDS off Giants Reliever Hunter Strickland which led to Strickland intentionally beaning Harper in 2017.
2015 MVP Season
Harper played the best baseball of his career in 2015 while winning the MVP award at the end of the season. Although the Nationals missed the playoffs, Harper gave a bright spot to the team in an ugly September collapse.
Harper hit a total of six homers in a three-game span early in the season. In a series finale with the Marlins, Harper hit three homers in a blowout win. The next day, Harper homered twice in a blowout win against the Braves. Harper, then came up to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth and hit a walk-off home run. The greatest three-game run I’ve ever seen.
Harper became the youngest unanimous MVP in MLB history. Harper hit .330/.460/.649 with 42 homers and 99 RBI.
Harper started off strong by winning Player of the Month in April but his production trailed off signicantly during the rest of the season. An all-star once again finished with a line of .243/.373/.441. The then 23-year-old hit 24 homers and drove in 86.
There was a non-reported injury to Harper’s shoulder that baseball writer Tom Verducci investigated during the season. Harper reportedly sustained it early in the year and played through it.
Harper played another MVP type season throughout the entirety of the season. Harper could have been on his way to another MVP award as he was on top of his game until a delayed start to a meaningless August game. The Giants took on the Nationals in D.C. while rain was still falling making the bases slick.
Harper was hustling down the line trying to beat a groundball out early in the game. Harper slipped on the bag causing his knee to bend in an awkward way. Harper had to be helped off the field and many Nats fans thought the worst.
Luckily his injury was only listed as a knee contusion and Harper was able to return for the playoffs. Harper hit a big home run tying Game 2 of the NLDS off Carl Edwards and the Cubs.
Harper went 2-4 in Game 5 while striking out against Wade Davis to end the season.
Bryce Harper had a weird season in 2018. Harper hit the ball hard in almost half of his at-bats but only hit .219 in the first half of the season.
The all-star game in D.C. was supposed to be Bryce’s all-star game. Harper was supposed to play well all of 2018 while enjoying a media circus about where he would take his talents after the season.
Harper participated in the 2018 Home Run Derby during the all-star break. Harper won the home run derby beating Kyle Schwarber in the final round. When Harper won the derby sent wavelengths through Nats Park which was almost as exciting as watching the Caps win the Stanley Cup.
After winning the Home Run Derby, Harper picked up right where he left off. Harper hit the ball well in the second half and the results finally started to show. All told in 2018 Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 homers and driving in 100 runs,
With Harper leaving the DMV, it closes a chapter in Nationals history.