Phillies Owner on Bryce Harper's $330 Million Contract: "I Think I've Underpaid You"

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Phillies Owner on Bryce Harper’s $330 Million Contract: “I Think I’ve Underpaid You”

Chicago Cubs

It’s no secret that there was a great deal of disappointment ’round here that the Chicago Cubs did not pursue Bryce Harper in free agency a few years ago. Heck, there still is a lot of disappointment, especially as we watch Harper play the hero in the postseason for the Philadelphia Phillies.

But the deal Harper got means that, unless the Phillies trade him, Harper will likely never see the open market again in his career. There was one shot, and the Cubs didn’t take it.

As for that deal, 13 years and $330 million, it’s pretty hard to imagine the Phillies regretting it at this moment. Sure, it’s a ton of guaranteed money over an enormous period of time – it runs through 2031(!) – and it could turn into a dud as soon as next year. But right now, the Phillies are headed to the World Series, Harper is raking despite a little tear in his UCL, and ownership is very happy with the move they made.

So happy, in fact that owner John Middleton told Harper that he’s underpaid:

Caught up in the moment, sure, but it’s sneaky funny to see an MLB owner admitting that a superstar on a monster contract is actually underpaid.

As an aside … is it actually true? We know that WAR/$ calculations are notoriously fraught, and there’s a whole lot they don’t capture. But if you wanted to make a EXTREMELY rough guess at the value Harper has provided so far, you might say that his 14.9 WAR over the past four seasons was worth around $120 to $130 million (FanGraphs pegs it at $118.6 million, for what it’s worth). In that time, Harper has been paid only about $101.5 million.

You would rightly point out that, in a deal like this, you expect to get MOST of the value in the early years, and pay for that difference on the back end. Probably will be true with Harper as he ages. But it’s worth keeping in mind that he only just turned 30 – there is a good chance he could still be “underpaid” for another three or four or more years.

And for another thing, none of this contemplates the value he provides in the postseason, which is disproportionate. If Harper directly contributes to, say, a World Series title, how do you even calculate that value? Is it an extra $20 million? $30 million? $50 million?

Long story short, it actually is potentially true that Bryce Harper is, and will remain, underpaid by the Phillies. The owner didn’t mean it in a nasty way, but, again, it’s just kinda funny to me that it might very well be true.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.