MLB

Bryce Harper’s game of hard-to-get is finally over

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When someone isn’t interested they simply aren’t interested, but when it’s hard to get, they try way too hard to act disinterested.

One hundred and seventeen days later, the game is finally over.

Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, agreeing to a 13-year, $330 million contract with no opt-outs and a full no trade clause, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The pact finally ended months of action-packed drama with Harper’s agent Scott Boras and Phillies brass being locked in a seemingly never-ending stalemate. It was just less than 24 hours ago when the Phillies duped the fan base by leaking a series of tweets to former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips.

It was a retort to Boras’ shenanigans over recent days, essentially calling his bluff. The Phillies were the only team from the jump that was offering the years and money that Harper desired, while most other teams either didn’t offer enough cash or the years he preferred. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were the two other finalists for Harper, but it was reported that they were offering only short-term contracts. The Washington Nationals offered a long-term deal at the end of the season, but a lot of the $300 million they offered over 10 years was deferred. The Giants met with Harper Tuesday, but a deal never materialized.

The games intensified 12 days ago on Feb. 16 when CBS Sports’ Jim Bowden reported that the Phillies remained the favorites for Harper and that the 26-year-old “could be rounding third and heading to home shortly” regarding a contract with the club. Shortly wound up being 12 days later.

Another leverage ploy used by Boras was getting the entire city of Philadelphia to believe that Harper was a stone-cold lock to come to the City of Brotherly Love. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Feb. 17 that the Phillies had finally met Harper’s price and were nearing a deal. It was at this point that the Phillies knew how much of a backlash there’d be if Harper wasn’t brought to Philadelphia.

Of course, there was Boras’ lap dog Jon Herman saying hours later “not so fast.”

The hard-to-get tactics from Boras intensified once again after Manny Machado signed his 10-year, $300 million with the San Diego Padres on Feb 19. Just hours later, reports began to surface that Harper was unsure about Philadelphia.

This “debunked” what Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told MLB Network’s Brian Kenny that he and Harper “hit it off.”

After Harper’s “unsure” report surfaced, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak responded with this answer as to why the team didn’t sign Manny Machado.

“There’s a certain value that we believe a player brings and we were willing to get aggressive on this. If the reports are true, then this contract will exceed our valuation, and sometimes you have to be willing to walk away.”

This was a direct response to Boras after Harper’s leaked out “unsure about Philadelphia” reports. The fans didn’t understand the quote. “Why would Klentak say that when the Phillies said they’d spend stupidly?” He was just simply playing the game and not allowing Boras to raise the value of Harper.

The Phillies weren’t budging.

The games reached another level again when the Dodgers entered the picture last weekend. It came right after owner John Middleton took his plane and flew it to Las Vegas in an attempt to finally get the deal with Harper done, but that didn’t happen. And right after Middleton’s plane headed back to Philly, boom, the Dodgers entered the picture. It was reported from the beginning that Harper preferred to play for the Dodgers, New York Yankees or Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers were finally in on him, but only for a short-term deal. So would Harper actually take a shorter deal to go to LA and spur the Phillies because he was unsure about whether or not he wanted to play there?

This was the seed Boras wanted to plant in the Phillies’ heads in an attempt to raise Harper’s value.

And finally, the day before when the games reached a climax. It was nothing but one false report after another, with 99 percent of Philadelphia legitimately believing that Boras and Harper were playing the Phillies.

The Phillies held firm on their value, they weren’t interested in bargaining with themselves and won the negotiation, not once having to dip into the “stupid” money.

It completes arguably the greatest offseason in team history — they still might not be done.

They traded for All-Stars J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura, they inked David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen and just landed the biggest fish of the offseason.

Baseball is finally fun again in Philly!

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at adrian@phillyinfluencer.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here.

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