Loyalty isn't worth the potential risks of a Bryce Harper extension for the Phillies

The Phillies superstar wants a contract extension despite signing a 13-year, $330 million deal with Philadelphia in February 2019.
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Bryce Harper has ushered in a new era for the Philadelphia Phillies as the face of the franchise since the organization agreed to a mammoth 13-year, $330 million contract in February 2019 with the star player.

Now, the Phillies superstar wants a contract extension, according to his agent Scott Boras.

During his first five years with Philadelphia, Harper has done everything possible to endear himself to the fanbase. He has been adamant that he loves playing for the organization and the fans. Last season, the Phillies had injury problems at first base. Rhys Hoskins suffered a torn ACL in Spring Training, and Darick Hall struggled offensively and dealt with an injury of his own.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery, Harper began taking reps at the position and made the transition from right field to first base. The organization decided to make him their first baseman moving forward this offseason.

The Phillies should not extend Harper even longer

Apparently, the outfielder-turned-infielder wants to remain with the Phillies for the duration of his playing career. If Harper wants an extension, that means he plans on playing into his 40s. While admirable, Philadelphia needs to consider how effective a player he will be in his mid-to-late-30s.

There is no question Harper is a Hall of Famer and is on track to have his number retired with the Phillies organization. However, he has played in the Majors since 2012 and has dealt with some injuries over his career. Father Time catches up with everyone and the infielder's play will diminish, presumably during his late 30s. His current deal expires following the 2031 season, when he will be 38 years old.

Who knows what the state of the Phillies organization will be like when Harper is in his late 30s? They also have shortstop Trea Turner signed to a massive deal similar to the contract they agreed to with the Las Vegas, Nevada native. At some point, years from now, Philadelphia will need to consider finding a new face of the franchise to build their team around.

They stuck with core players Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard when they were well past their primes when the franchise needed to go in a new direction. Loyalty to players is a good trait for a club to exhibit to its core players, but sports is a business at the end of the day, and difficult decisions need to be made.

At some point, well in the distant future, the Phillies will need to move on from Harper. The worst thing Philadelphia can do is be stuck with a contract that could end up hampering them from rebuilding and finding new core players to build around. 13 years is more than long enough for the length of a contract.

While Philadelphia should be hesitant to sign him to an extension, the Phillies may ultimately decide to do so to satisfy Harper. His average annual pay of $25.38 million is low among all-time deals, which is part of the motivation for an extension on the first baseman's part.

Owner John Middleton admitted to underpaying him following the infielder's home run late in Game 5 of the 2022 National League Championship Series against the Padres that put the Phillies in the lead and in position to advance to its first World Series since 2009.

Middleton wants Harper to remain with Philadelphia for the duration of his career and the feeling is mutual. The star player will likely be given the extension he desires even though the contract will likely not age well, considering all players are not as productive as they get older.

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