Phillies planning a questionable extension now that Zack Wheeler is secured?

After the Phillies extended Zack Wheeler, all eyes again turned to superstar first baseman Bryce Harper.
Wild Card Series - Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One
Wild Card Series - Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

After much speculation during the offseason, Zack Wheeler agreed to terms on a multi-year extension with the Philadelphia Phillies on March 4. The deal is for three years and $126 million, keeping the starter with the club through the 2027 season. Philadelphia now has its top two pitchers, he and Aaron Nola, under contract for the foreseeable future.

Following Wheeler's extension, could the Phillies now turn their attention to offering a deal to another of its core players? Bryce Harper expressed his interest in an extension this offseason, just five years after agreeing to a 13-year, $330 million deal in February 2019.

Will the Phillies agree to an extension with Harper that will keep him in Philadelphia for the remainder of his career?

Harper has expressed a desire to continue playing into his 40s. His current deal with the Phillies is due to expire following the 2031 season when he will be 38. Owner John Middleton commented on the likelihood of a possible extension for the first baseman following Wheeler's press conference on March 4.

"At this point, I don't really have any comment other than what I've said, my goal is that he retires as a Phillie," Middleton said per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman. "My expectation is that he will retire as a Phillie. We need to get something done, but when we get it done and how it gets done, it's not clear to me."

The 31-year-old infielder has maintained flexibility in negotiating an extension during the season.

"Contract negotiations [happen] throughout the season and things like that," Harper said when he arrived at camp, per's Todd Zolecki. "So we'll see what [agent Scott Boras] and [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] can come up with.”

The argument can be made that Harper's contract, which he agreed to, could already make him a Phillie for the remainder of his career. Will the first baseman's play have regressed substantially by the time he is 38? A decline is expected once he reaches 35.

Are the Phillies letting Harper's loyalty to the franchise influence their decision-making?

Could injuries play a factor in a decline? Depending on the severity of any ailments, that could limit how good Harper is during the final years of his playing career. Philadelphia would be investing a lot in a player who may only be playing defensively part-time and a full-time designated hitter.

No matter how dedicated Harper is to the organization and how frequently he wants to play in the city of Philadelphia for the remainder of his career, the Phillies need to be wary of agreeing to an extension that may hamper them further financially.

The Phillies may be entering a rebuilding period at some point during Harper's tenure with the franchise. Does having him on the roster make sense if they will not be a contender? Wouldn't he want to play for a competitive club with a chance of winning a championship?

Sports can be a tough business, and it would be difficult but necessary for Philadelphia to cut ties with Harper if it does not make sense for the team to have him on its roster. 13 years is long enough for a team to have a player on their roster.