With Aaron Nola locked in for seven more years, the Philadelphia Phillies might be looking to address the contract of their superstar first baseman next.
When Harper signed his current 13-year deal in 2019, the $330 million overall total surpassed Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 deal with the Miami Marlins from 2014.
Less than a month after Harper inked his deal, the Los Angeles Angels tied outfielder Mike Trout down with a 12-year, $426.5 million contract. In the years since, contracts have continued to increase.
In terms of overall contract value, according to Spotrac, Harper is now seventh, behind Trout, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, the San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado, the New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor, and the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. With two-way star Shohei Ohtani on the free-agent market this offseason, the expectation is that a new record will be set shortly.
According to Spotrac, Harper is currently tied for the 22nd-highest base salary per year at $26 million. With contract values increasing across the sport, the two-time MVP will only continue to see his name slide down the lists.
Since signing with the Phillies ahead of the 2019 season, the seven-time All-Star has slashed .284/.395/.536 with 122 home runs and 368 RBI in 581 games. In 30 postseason games with Philly, he's hitting .324/.432/.705 with 11 home runs, 21 RBI, and an OPS of 1.137.
After making the quickest return from Tommy John surgery in the history of the sport in 2023 — 160 days — the three-time Silver Slugger went on to lead the team in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.401), slugging percentage (.499), and on-base plus slugging percentage (.900) during the regular season. His 3.7 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, was third on the team, behind starting pitcher Zack Wheeler and second baseman Bryson Stott. He also finished 12th in MVP voting, even with the injury-shortened season.
And he did it while learning a new position as he made the transition to first base during his return from injury, a position he will now play going forward.
When Harper put pen to paper back in 2019, his agent, Scott Boras, remembers talking through the options, including the superstar's insistence that there be no opt-outs in the deal.
According to Nightengale, Boras said: "I think with Harp he wanted to build a champion. I told him, 'Economically you can't give up your opt-out.' He told me, 'I know Philly fans. I have to let them know I'm there for the long haul. I want to recruit players, too, since I'll be here for the rest of my career.'"
And so far, it's been a win-win, with Harper helping to recruit shortstop Trea Turner last year, among others. And according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the 31-year-old has been involved in trying to lure Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the City of Brotherly Love.
While Harper's contract was intentionally structured to ensure the team could pursue big-name free agents and build around him, in the 2022 postseason, Phillies managing partner John Middleton commented on Harper's value relative to his contract:
Harper has made it abundantly clear that he wants to spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia. He has also indicated that he wants to keep playing for a long time. When his current deal with the Phillies ends after the 2031 season, Harper will be 39 years old.
In March, Harper spoke with Matt Gelb of The Athletic and gave some insight into what his baseball future might look like.
"I absolutely love playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. I can't explain to you how much I love it. And how much I enjoy it. I really can't. I want to play here until I'm 45 years old, and I really believe that I can," Harper told Gelb.
Now appears to be the time for the organization to get Harper's salary on par with his market value and ensure he retires as a member of the Phillies.