Sources: Bryce Harper agrees to record-breaking $330 million contract with Phillies

Bryce Harper is a Philadelphia Phillie.

To many the most valued player in this winter’s free-agent class, to others the most valued player in the history of free agency, Harper concluded his extended offseason by agreeing to a contract with the Phillies, per reports from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

According to CBS Sports’ Jim Bowden, Harper’s deal is greater than the $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014, which was an extension.

Harper, the 26-year-old former MVP, is the masterstroke in a Phillies offseason in which the club sought to finish a rebuilding effort. The club has endured seven consecutive non-winning seasons. With money to spend and a strong belief in their younger core, the Phillies traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura, signed veteran reliever David Robertson and outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and also entertained signing free agent shortstop Manny Machado. They might still seek to add another free agent, perhaps pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who, like Harper, is a client of agent Scott Boras.

Nearing the end of February and two weeks after spring camps opened, Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a second meeting with Harper and his representatives. The first was in early January.

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Bryce Harper through his career
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Bryce Harper through his career
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper demonstrates his batting stance with a teammate during a workout before a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees in Tampa, Florida, March 16, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Nineteen-year-old Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (L) greets a fan on the sidelines during warm-ups as he prepares to make his major-league debut playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in their MLB National League baseball game in Los Angeles, California April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals reacts after getting out with two men on base in the 8th inning against the New York Mets in Washington June 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper celebrates after scoring the go ahead home run against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of Inter League MLB baseball action at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts June 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper (R) yells after striking out against New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte (not pictured) during the fifth inning of their MLB interleague baseball game in Washington June 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Washington Nationals batter Bryce Harper waits to hit against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning during their MLB interleague baseball game in Baltimore, Maryland, June 24, 2012. REUTERS/Patrick Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (R) congratulates teammate Ryan Zimmerman after the Nationals defeated the Miami Marlins in their MLB National League baseball game in Miami, Florida July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper steps into the batter's box against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning of their MLB National League baseball game in Washington, July 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Oct 3, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) is hit with a pitch during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Washington Nationals won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper watches his two RBI home run during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Washington Nationals won 9-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) celebrates his solo home run during the tenth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 3-2 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; National League outfielder Bryce Harper (34) of the Washington Nationals before the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 25, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a two run double in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park. Washington Nationals deafened Baltimore Orioles 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball player Bryce Harper arrives at the 2016 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Apr 10, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hustles to third against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 14-6. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits an RBI single against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Jul 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) is ejected from the game by home plate umpire Chris Segal (96) after arguing a called third strike in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) listens during a press conference to unveil the official logo for the 2018 All-Star Game prior to the game between the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON, D.C. - SEPTEMBER 25: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats during a game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30: Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) leaves the dugout following their loss to the Colorado Rockies in their last game of the 2018 season at Coors Field. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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The Phillies won 80 games in 2018, which saw them in first place in mid-August, then collapse over the final six weeks. They lost 20 of 28 games in September. In mid-November, team owner John Middleton told reporters, “We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.” In mid-January, they met in Las Vegas with Harper and his wife, Kayla.

The Phillies are likely to have an outfield of Harper, McCutchen and Odubel Herrera. Rhys Hoskins, their regular left fielder last season, moves to first base, his natural position.

Giancarlo Stanton signed a 13-year, $325-million contract extension with the Miami Marlins in November 2014, days after he turned 25 and a year before he’d reach free agency. It was the largest guarantee for a baseball player. Three years later, the cash-strapped Marlins traded Stanton to the New York Yankees and might still be on the hook for $30 million.

The highest free-agent contract was Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275-million deal with the New York Yankees prior to the 2008 season, and before that Rodriguez’s 10-year, $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers (when Rodriguez was 25). Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels, 2012) and Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners, 2014) are playing on 10-year, $240-million contracts.

By average annual value, the highest free-agent contracts belonged to Zack Greinke ($34.4 million), David Price ($31 million), Max Scherzer ($30 million) and Roger Clemens ($28 million).

In the months leading to his decision, Harper reportedly rejected an in-season extension offer from the Washington Nationals for $300 million over 10 years. And in the months of his free agency, he’d drawn extreme or peripheral interest from the Chicago White Sox, Phillies, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Nationals. Twice in December he met with Nationals owner Ted Lerner at Lerner’s home in Palm Springs, according to sources. Harper met with other clubs in Las Vegas, his hometown, including the Phillies. By the end, around the time Machado signed with the Padres for $300 million over 10 years, the bidding appeared to have centered on the Phillies and Giants.

Harper turned 26 in October. While the industry appears to have become hesitant to commit to mega-deals that extend into the back ends of players’ careers, Harper may well remain in his prime – or close enough to his prime – for the duration of the contract. That, along with an MVP season in 2015 (when he led the National League in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging), six All-Star appearances in seven seasons, two seasons in which he batted at least .319, an at-bats-per-home-run mark (17.97) that stands 11th among active players and an ability to play three outfield positions, made him, along with 26-year-old Manny Machado, the most sought-after free agent in many years.

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MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason
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MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason

INF Manny Machado

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the San Diego Padres

(Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Bryce Harper

Left the Washington Nationals in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

OF Yasiel Puig

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

2B DJ LeMahieu

Left the Colorado Rockies in free agency to sign with the New York Yankees

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Matt Kemp

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Joe Kelly

Left the Boston Red Sox in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Robinson Cano

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

RHP Edwin Diaz

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

RHP Jeurys Familia

Left the Oakland Athletics in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RF Andrew McCutchen

Left the New York Yankees in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

INF Jed Lowrie

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

RHP Ivan Nova

Traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

LHP Patrick Corbin

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

1B Paul Goldschmidt

Traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

SS Jean Segura

Traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion

Traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

1B Justin Bour

Left the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

1B Yonder Alonso

Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

OF Michael Brantley

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the Houston Astros

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

RHP Matt Harvey

Left the Cincinnati Reds in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

RHP Anibal Sanchez

Left the Atlanta Braves in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

DH Nelson Cruz

Left the Seattle Mariners in free agency to sign with the Minnesota Twins

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RHP Kendall Graveman

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Chicago Cubs

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

RHP Charlie Morton

Left the Houston Astros in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Outfielder Domingo Santana

Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Infielder Daniel Murphy

Left the Chicago Cubs in free agency to sign with the Colorado Rockies

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

RHP Joakim Soria

Left the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency to sign with the Oakland A's

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

RHP Andrew Miller

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2B Jurickson Profar

Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A's

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

RHP Trevor Cahill

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2B Brian Dozier

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Shelby Miller

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Texas Rangers

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Harper, the prodigy, skipped his final two years of high school in order to hasten his development and arrive sooner in the amateur draft. After a season in junior college, he was chosen first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 draft. He was a big leaguer by 19 and an All Star not three months later.

Harper was a star before he took his first major league at-bat. His play generally supported the assumption. As a result, he has procured endorsement deals with New Era, Gatorade, Under Armour and Blind Barber, among others. He is on the cover of the 2019 video game, MLB: The Show.

Of his seven seasons, however, one has been MVP worthy, a second drew enough votes to finish 12th in the balloting, and in other seasons injuries or lack of production have produced a mixed lot. In 2016, as a 23-year-old, and the year after his MVP award, Harper batted .243 and hit 24 home runs. In 2018, he was batting .215 in late July before rallying with one of the better second halves in baseball. After winning the Home Run Derby at Nationals Park, he finished batting .249 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 130 walks. His career .388 on-base percentage is sixth among active players, behind Joey Votto, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer.

While often put in the same category as Trout – Trout a year older, Trout debuted nine months earlier, both entering their primes – Trout has been far more consistent. Trout has two years remaining – at $33.25 million per – in a six-year, $144.5-million extension he signed with the Los Angeles Angels before the 2014 season.

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