Phillies' Harper, already signed long term, wants extension, says Boras

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bryce Harper has expressed a desire to sign an extension with the Philadelphia Phillies, even though his contract spans eight more years and takes him through his age-38 season, his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday.

Harper's 13-year, $330 million free agent contract was the largest in major league history when he signed it in March 2019, topping Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million extension with the Miami Marlins. The deal came with no opt-outs -- something Harper said he requested in order to prove his loyalty to Philadelphia and help recruit other players -- and a $25.4 million average annual value that paled in comparison to the $30 million secured by Manny Machado that same offseason.

Harper's contract is now the seventh-highest in the sport; 23 players have a higher average annual value. Boras, hosting his annual winter meetings scrum from the Gaylord Opryland Resort, brought up Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who restructured his contract in order to better line up with his QB counterparts. He also hinted at Harper, who will transition to first base on a full-time basis, playing into his 40s.

"Bryce has certainly expressed to them that he wants to end his career in Philadelphia," Boras said. "I've certainly told [president of baseball operations] Dave [Dombrowski] I think Bryce is a franchise player. ... He came there for the fans. Apart from my advice, he goes, 'I just want to go and make sure I can recruit players in Philadelphia, let the fans in Philadelphia know that I'm going to be there for the duration, that I am committed.' I think he's been an important voice for them to attract major free agents."

Harper, who turned 31 in October, won his second MVP while with the Phillies in 2021 and has batted .290/.385/.505 with 39 homers and 137 RBIs in 225 games over the past two years, during which he suffered an elbow injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. Harper underwent the procedure in late November 2022 and returned in record time, reinserting himself into the Phillies' lineup by the start of the following May. A few months later, he began to transition from right field to first base as a means to free up designated hitter while putting less stress on his arm.

Harper, the Washington Nationals' former No. 1 overall pick, has now spent a half-decade in Philadelphia and has talked often about his adoration for the city's passionate fan base, a dynamic he has clearly leaned into.

"He has a lot of goals that he wants to achieve in Philadelphia," Boras said. "Obviously he's a Hall of Fame-type talent. He wants to keep his personal pursuits in the game there. ... He's been there five years, he's kind of shown them who he is, and why he's a franchise player. I think he's changed the player community, how players view Philadelphia, and so consequently, he's come in and said, 'This is something I want off my mind. I want to play well beyond the contract that I have.'"

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