CLEARWATER, Fla. (CBS) – Bryce Harper is officially a Philadelphia Phillie. The team on Saturday formally introduced the biggest name on the free-agent market at Spectrum Field.
Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with no opt-outs and a no-trade clause. He gets a $20 million signing bonus, a $10 million salary this year, $26 million in each of the following nine seasons and $22 million in each of the last three years. None of the money is deferred.
He will wear No. 3, which he said Saturday is an important number to him.
During his introduction, the 26-year-old was flanked by Phillies owner John Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak and his agent, Scott Boras. Harper’s wife, Kayla, and his parents were also in attendance.
Harper covered a ton of topics, including his new team becoming a World Series contender, switching numbers to his massive, record-breaking contract. His 13-year, $330 million deal is the largest in North American sports history.
“It was more of the years,” Harper told Eyewitness News. “It was more, ‘Where can I get the longest years, where can I dig my roots and be part of and organization and build my family?’ … At the end of the day, I think we got the years that we wanted and everything else.”
The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers were also in the race to sign Harper over the recent weeks.
Middleton told Eyewitness News the Phillies didn’t make an honest offer to Harper until last Sunday and the Harper contract came together in four days.
“Everything up until last Sunday afternoon were discussions,” Middleton said.
The signing represents the deliverance of a promise from Middleton to spend “stupid money” secured by Klentak.
“Look, it was designed to tell everybody, our players, our fans, the organization, it’s time to be aggressive, it’s time to take the next step. I wanted to the push and Matt pushed,” Middleton said of his previous stupid money comments.
Harper is the third All-Star the Phillies acquired this offseason, joining Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto.
“It’s been really from start to finish this offseason, it’s been busy,” Klentak said. “There’s been a lot going on from the very beginning to now. That was all done in an effort to improve this team where we felt we had weaknesses.”
Fans are ecstatic about the Phillies making the biggest free agent splash since the team signed Cliff Lee after the 2010 season.
Harper said Philadelphia is by far the greatest sports city in the country, and while he didn’t guarantee a World Series, he said he’s looking forward to the day he can ride in a boat or a float down Broad Street.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s cool for me but I got to tell you, it’s cool for the fans,” Klentak said. “It’s cool for the city. To have someone who wants to be part of your city, your franchise, your organization for the long haul … it’s just an incredible commitment. We’re thrilled to have him.”
Harper has hit more home runs at Citizens Bank Park than other visiting ballpark in his time as a Washington National. Now the right fielder will clear fences and mend them with Phillies fans.
“I just feel good there,” Harper said. “Being able to feel like I can prove myself every single day in that ballpark and being able to play in front of a fanbase that booed me each and every day was also a little bit of an edge as well.”
Harper talked about spreading out the average annual salary Saturday as well. He said he did that because he wants to help recruit other players to come in and fill out this organization.
Then, he said something interesting about a player who “comes off the books in two years.”
No doubt, Harper was talking about Millville, New Jersey’s Mike Trout.
Will Harper and Trout one day patrol the outfield at Citizens Bank Park.
Only time will tell. But for now, the Phillies’ future just got a whole lot brighter.