Friday, November 9, 2018

Free Agent Jigsaw: Bryce Harper

It was recently revealed that the Washington Nationals offered Bryce Harper a 10 year $300 million contract.

By all accounts that sounds ridiculous to play a game of baseball.

The 26 year old Harper could set a record for the largest free agent contract in any of the four major American sports this year.

Bryce Harper had a monster year in 2015 when he unanimously won the National League MVP award and had a very high Wins Above Replacement of 10.0.

That was his age 22 season.

Andrew McCutchen was a rookie in his age 22 season so Harper had a 3 year head start on compiling career MLB stats.

Let's look at the two players WAR and DRS (defensive runs saved) from their age 22 to 25 seasons.
I chose these ages because one was making their debut and the other was making a breakout performance at age 22.  Both would go on to sign contracts during their age 26 offseasons. 

One had a WAR of 18.5 and the other had a WAR of 17.5 during those 4 seasons.  One signed a 6 year extension for $60million at age 25 and the other is looking for 10 years over $300 million.

Cutch had the higher WAR and went on to post his highest single season WAR of 7.9 during his age 26 season.
Neither player has been known to be a great defender over their careers.  In the four years I am comparing Cutch to Harper (age 22 to 25) Cutch had a defensive runs saved of -14. Harper had a DRS of -12.

It will certainly be interesting to see what Harper gets in free agency, but it is very likely that the latter part of the contract won't be worth the money he gets paid in his age 30+ seasons.

Where do you think Harper signs and how much do you think he will sign for?


  1. Bryce Harper is so overrated! I had a feeling you'd have a stat to prove Cutch was better-at least at a certain point. Joe Girardi made this point when the Yanks acquired McCutchen; that everyone assumes he's on the decline but some of his stats over the past year-plus were nearly identical to Andrew Benintendi.

    As for Harper, he'll probably get close to $400 mil, over a dozen years or so, and probably from the Dodgers. I can't see the Yanks signing him because they have better options in the OF (why not just re-sign McC for 1/10th the price?) and I'm not sold on the Phillies being serious.

    1. Harper and Cutch provide similar value to their teams, but are vastly viewed at differently by execs and fans alike. Harper has more power and his brand is more well known than Cutch since Cutch shaved the dreads, but Cutch's plate discipline, on base skills, and speed make him nearly better than Harper.

      In terms of the hobby, Harper is extremely over priced for his production.

      Eric Byrnes said it perfectly yesterday on MLB Network. If we value WAR at roughly $8 million per Win, why should Harper get anything more $15 million per season. The past three years he has posted a WAR over 2 only ONCE.

  2. Wow I didn't realize these guys had any cards together. As for where Harper will be next season? I really really hope he stays with the Nationals but it will take a heck of a compromise on both parts to make that happen. :(

    1. I would like to see him return to Washington too.

  3. I'd actually be just fine if the Yankees found a spot for him. You're getting his age 26 thru whatever seasons, which theoretically should be his prime. I don't see it happening, but I hope I'm surprised.

    I'll go with Phillies for 10 years, $340.

  4. 30 million? Damn. Considering it's more than a third of the 2018 A's entire payroll, I'd say that's insane money. Hope he stays in Washington, but anywhere except New York (Yankees) would be okay.

    1. It is absolutely insane. It is a shame that teams like the A's, Pirates, and Rays are farm systems for other MLB teams. I think there should be a salary floor for MLB. A few years ago the Padres opening day roster made less than Clayton Kershaw. Having a floor may make teams keep their star players longer.