SportsPulse: It finally happened. Bryce Harper has landed in Philly. FTW’s Ted Berg explains how Harper instantly makes them title contenders even in a loaded NL East.
The wait is finally over, and the long saga that was Bryce Harper’s free agency has ended.
Harper had spent his entire carer with the Nationals organization after they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft. He debuted in 2012 at 19 and was an All-Star six times in his seven seasons in Washington.
The Phillies were considered a front-runner throughout the process and while there’s a sentiment that Harper is merely settling for Philadelphia after his market failed to materialize, here’s why it’s a good landing spot:
1. He gets a fresh start
In Philadelphia, Harper will get to become his own man, write his own narrative and no longer be defined by the past.
He went through ups and downs with the Nationals, and while the memories are mostly fond, there’s undeniably some feeling of missed opportunity regarding his time in Washington.
It’s 2019 and Harper is not the 16-year-old on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” or the 22-year-old getting choked by a teammate. He’s a superstar in his own right and can now show that to the world.
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2. He fits the Philly profile
Harper, while occasionally prone to easing up on defense in the name of self-preservation, is a hard-nosed personality on the field, and that should endear him to Philadelphia fans. His style makes him easy to hate as an opposing fan, but his competitive nature should quickly place him in the pantheon of beloved Philly stars. Will he be Chase Utley overnight? Probably not, but his expected production should smooth out the occasional superstar turns he may take.
3. His new home is homer-happy
Citizens Bank Park has been one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league since it opened in 2004 and Harper should see his home run totals rise. Harper loves to drive the ball the other way and CBP’s short porch in left plays perfectly to that.
4. He has veteran help and young friends
While this is a relatively young Phillies team, having seasoned and decorated teammates in Andrew McCutchen and Jake Arrieta is going to be huge for Harper. The Phillies also traded with the Miami Marlins for 27-year-old catcher J.T. Realmuto this offseason.
Harper is a vet himself, but won’t have to do the heavy lifting like it seemed he had to in Washington. Meanwhile, fellow Scott Boras client and young slugger Rhys Hoskins is a Harper pal and also a young slugger. The H&H Boys will definitely be a thing.
5. He’s unburdened
Of course, he’ll have a target on his back with a $330 million contract, but it’s going to be a different kind of pressure than Harper has faced. He was the Washington organization’s first star and the chosen one to put baseball on the map in the nation’s capital. With the Phillies, Harper won’t have to carry that burden. He’ll be the team’s best player, but the club already has a storied history. The Nationals are free to write their own history – and now, so is Harper.
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