The Philadelphia Phillies should not hand Bryce Harper a contract extension. While Harper may desire an extension, his contract runs through the 2031 season. With that much time left on the contract, an extension is unnecessary. It is great that Harper wants to finish his career with the Phillies. A contract extension for a deal ending in eight years is not the best way to do that now. The Phillies do not need to add time to the deal unless it somehow helps reduce their luxury tax number. Given the way the current deal is set up right now, that seems unlikely to be able to happen. This maneuvering is easier to do when signing a fresh contract. With an extension simply adding to the existing contract, this will be harder to do with the Harper contract.
Scott Boras, who represents Harper, likely put this out there to get more money for his client. When Harper signed with the Phillies in 2019, it was one of the richest contracts in baseball. Now it is further down the list, especially after the Los Angeles Dodgers recently gave Shohei Ohtani the most expensive contract in MLB and North American pro sports history. In all likelihood, Boras is trying to get a decent pay raise for Haper and another year or two on the deal. After all, getting the most money possible for every client is the job Boras has as one of the most prominent agents in baseball. Additionally, Boras is the most vocal agent in baseball. This could be good or bad, depending on the situation.
Bryce Harper Contract Extension
The Extension Does Not Need to Happen Yet
If the Phillies are going to hand out contract extensions this offseason, they should give one to Zack Wheeler before Harper gets one. With Wheeler having a contract that expires after the 2024 season, that extension should take priority. Phillies’ President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, should focus on extension talks with Wheeler before negotiating with Harper. This would be the best use of resources for the Phillies front office. If the Phillies extended Harper before Wheeler, it would not be an effective use of time and other resources. The Phillies should respectfully decline Boras’s effort to get Harper an extension. The extension does not need to happen at this very second.
An Extension Closer to When the Current Deal Expires?
However, if it is possible to extend Harper in a way that opens up financial resources to spend on other extensions or free agents, then go for it. Otherwise, Harper should not have an extension until later, closer to when the current deal expires. The contract extension recently signed by Aaron Nola expires before the contract Harper currently has expired. Except for Trea Turner, every other Phillies player is set to have their current contract expire before Harper’s expiration. With that being the case, an extension is unnecessary in this current situation. Boras is the one most responsible for the situation being the way it is now. After all, Boras and not Harper were the ones that made this public.
“How many more years does he want?”@FlavaFraz21 struggles to process Bryce Harper’s agent asking for a contract extension with 8 years left on the deal (through his age 38 season)
— Foul Territory (@FoulTerritoryTV) December 7, 2023
What The Phillies Priorities Should Be
The Phillies have other priorities that should be dealt with before Harper. In addition to the Wheeler extension talks, Dombrowski should try to sign at least one of Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Josh Hader. Adding Yamamoto or Hader would be a significant boost for the Phillies. After the Phillies bullpen had substantial failures in the postseason, acquiring a great closer like Hader is needed. Bringing in Yamamoto would solidify the Phillies’ rotation and give the team more pitching depth. It seems unlikely at this moment that Dombrowski will acquire an outfielder. This would indicate that Johan Rojas may become the Phillies’ starting centerfielder full-time, unlike previously shown.
Photo Credit: © Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports