Earlier this winter, Bryce Harper's representation, The Boras Corporation, suggested they would like to engage in contract extension talks with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason. The request was seen as unusual when it was first reported. After all, Harper still has eight years remaining on a 13-year deal that the slugger signed prior to the 2019 season.
During his recent appearance on 94WIP's The Morning Show, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was asked if any extension talks had begun with the club's new full-time first baseman.
"We know he's a Phillie for eight more years and there's a lot of time to digest things," Dombrowski said. "But it's a situation where we're thrilled that he's on board and again, you can desire and want anything you would like, but I think it's also, knowing Bryce, when he gets to spring training under any circumstances, he's ready to go."
From the sounds of things, it doesn't appear that the Phillies are in a major rush to enter extension talks with Harper and Scott Boras. It is unorthodox for an agent to ask for an extension this far ahead of a contract expiring. What's the reasoning behind asking for an extension when there's still so much time left on a deal?
What is Bryce Harper worth?
It's likely that Harper and his camp feel that he is underpaid. Most of the general population would not think that a player making over $25 million a year is underpaid; however, in the business of baseball, Harper's deal is extremely team friendly.
Harper will make $26 million per season through 2028 — his age 35 season. He'll make $22 million per season for the final three seasons of his contract. When he signed his $330 million deal, Harper had signed the highest total dollar amount in baseball. Since then, multiple players have collected deals that surpass the Phillies' first baseman's contract.
Harper will be the 23rd-highest player in baseball this coming season, according to Spotrac. However, when it comes to actual player value, he should probably be making much more than that. For reference, Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rendon will all collect larger paychecks.
It is likely wise for the Phillies to avoid extending any player — even if he is the face of the franchise — this far in advance of a deal expiring. Eight years is a long time, and who knows what could happen between now and then. If Harper is as healthy and productive as he plans to be when there are two or three years left, then perhaps the club could look at extending and compensating their MVP at that time.