Arguably the best free agent of the last 18 years has a new team. Bryce Harper has agreed to a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team announced Friday night. Harper's deal is for 13 years and $330 million and features no opt-out clauses, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Harper, 26, authored a .249/.393/.496 (133 OPS+) batting line with 34 home runs and an MLB best 130 walks last season. Sketchy defense dragged his overall production down to 1.3 WAR, though the poor defensive ratings are an outlier compared to the rest of his career. He consistently rated as an average or better defender prior to 2018.
As recently as 2017, Harper was a .319/.413/.595 (156 OPS+) hitter who amassed 29 homers and 4.7 WAR in 111 games around a fluke knee injury suffered when he slipped on a wet base. He has hit .267/.391/.505 (133 OPS+) in 417 games since his MVP season in 2015, and he has averaged 32 homers and 4.8 WAR per 162 games in his career.
Harper will play the entire 2019 regular season at age 26, and, given what we know about aging curves, it is possible if not likely he is about to enter the best years of his career. He may never repeat 2015 again -- almost no one has multiple seasons like that -- but Harper has the talent and pedigree to be a top five player over the life of his new Phillies contract.
The Harper signing caps an active winter for the Phillies. They traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura, and signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever David Robertson. Harper also delivers on the Phillies' promise to go big-name fishing this winter with an intent on spending potentially "stupid" money.
The Nationals will receive a 2019 supplemental first round draft pick as compensation for losing Harper, who rejected the $17.9 million qualifying offer earlier this winter. Because they did not pay luxury tax in 2018, the Phillies only have to forfeit their 2019 second round draft pick to sign Harper.
Manny Machado in our voting.. He was only a handful of points ahead of