Bryce Harper signed a contract!
Yesterday we talked about the seemingly never-ending Bryce Harper saga that had been dragging on all winter. Well, that was apparently the final push he needed. Thursday afternoon marked the end of the excruciating process, and eventually it ended as we all thought it would. Well, at least in terms of where he ended up. Harper is going to be a Phildelphia Phillie for a long time, signing a 13-year, $330 million contract to give him the largest contract in terms of guaranteed money of all time. Most interesting is that there are no opt-outs in the deal. Harper does have a full no-trade clause.
So, there isn’t much of anything to say here that hasn’t already been said. Harper should be a picture-perfect fit in that park, which is apparently part of the reason he wanted to go there and stay there. I was certainly surprised about the lack of opt-outs, which was apparently Harper’s decision, but I can see the reasoning. This process has been brutal for us, just imagine how it’s been for Harper. It’s not hard to see him saying just do whatever it takes to make sure I don’t have to do this ever again.
The biggest question people seem to have is why he took this deal over the four-year, $180 million deal apparently offered by the Dodgers. I really don’t think it’s that crazy. For one, I thin Harper and Boras really had their eyes set on breaking Stanton’s record for total guaranteed money. Yes, the AAV doesn’t really reflect a record contract, but the fact is Harper is guaranteed more money than anyone else ever. Period. He can take pride in that. I also think, again, he didn’t want to do this free agency thing again, and he wanted to be the guy in one city for the rest of his career. Philadelphia is a nice place to be a legend if he can play up to that.
Then, there’s the baseball side of things. The NL East is going to be extremely fun this year, with every team but Miami thinking they have a claim to the division title. The Phillies, though, have to be the favorites now, I’d think. Their pitching isn’t great, but I think they’re better than they get credit for and they have an ace at the top in Aaron Nola. That said, I could see that division going a number of different ways.
Toronto signs two pitchers, including an old friend
A few hours after the Harper news dominated the conversation on the interwebs, the Blue Jays suck in and made two small moves to improve their pitching staff. First, they signed right-handed reliever Bud Norris to a minor-league deal that will be worth $3 million if he makes the roster. I would hope the Red Sox were at least in on this one, because Norris is too good for a minor-league deal. There are legitimate questions with how he deals with young teammates after some tensions with Jordan Hicks in the past, but on the mound he’s been very good. There are some command issues, but he’s been above-average by ERA with close to 11 strikeouts per nine innings with walk and home run rates that won’t kill you.
The Blue Jays also signed a former Red Sox starting pitcher, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3 million with Clay Buchholz. Obviously, Buchholz had a bit of a complicated history in Boston, but I always felt he was underrated. The negatives were undeniable and hard to get over, to be fair. He simply couldn’t stay healthy and at times he was brutally bad when he was on the mound. On the other hand, he had outstanding stretches. Buchholz was the best pitcher in the American League in the first half of 2013 before going down with injury. He’d come back for the playoffs and put up a gutsy performance in the World Series despite barely having 50 percent of his stuff. He also had a 109 ERA+ over his entire Boston career. Yes, Buchholz could have done more, but sometimes you have to appreciate what you get instead of wondering what else could have been. Anyway, he pitched very well in 16 starts with the Diamondbacks last year, and Toronto is likely hoping to flip him and Norris for prospects in the summertime.