With the Philadelphia Phillies signing Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal, the rest of the National League East may be scrambling more than they wanted to pick up remaining free agents. The Harper deal put the Phillies as co-favorites to win the division.
Before the news of Harper going to the City of Brotherly Love, the Phillies were the second pick to win the East, behind Harper’s old team, the Washington Nationals. After the deal was announced, the Phillies jumped to +225 with the Nationals. The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves are both at +300.
Philadelphia’s odds to win the National League Championship and the World Series also improved significantly. The Phillies went from +700 to +500 to win the NLCS, and from +1400 to +1000 to win the World Series.
Harper’s former manager, Washington’s Davey Martinez was happy for his former player.
“He deserves it,” Martinez said. “He’s one of the best young players in the game. I’m glad I got to spend a year with him. We’ll always be close. He makes that division a little bit tougher. But I wish him all the best, I really do. Good for him.”
One of Many Philadelphia Moves
The team had been busy even before it entered the race for Harper, who was being courted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. They had signed infielder Jean Segura, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher David Robertson to fill immediate needs.
Harper though gives them a true superstar, someone the fans will identify with immediately. Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin told NBC that the team already knew they could compete with division rivals New York, Atlanta, and Washington, but adding Harper takes it to another level.
“We are all excited. I’m sure he’s excited,” Eflin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for many years to come.”
Pitching is a need for Philadelphia, but New York, Atlanta, and Washington could use another arm as well. Enter Dallas Keuchel, who is unsigned, and could now ignite a bidding war.
What hurts Keuchel’s chances is he is seeking a long-term deal, and teams have been hesitant to offer him that. The lefty is undeterred.
“I’m calm and collected outside the field,” Keuchel told a Houston TV station. “I don’t really hit the panic button at all. I’m worried about getting myself ready and up to speed. I feel like I’m ahead of schedule compared to the last few years.”
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is probably the best offensive player remaining. The 33-year-old isn’t going to get deal that runs five or six years, but he should be able to pull in a nice three-year contract.
Standing Pat Might by Prudent
Of course the three teams now chasing Philadelphia might have enough to win the division. Washington added Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez as the third and fourth pitchers and with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, could have the best rotation in the majors.
The Mets were probably the busiest of the teams in this division. They addressed their offensive woes with Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, and Jed Lowrie. Having Noah Syndegaard and Jacob DeGrom lead a strong pitching staff.
Atlanta was the quietest of the three, and they really didn’t need a whole lot. The Braves did get third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann, but the unit that got them to the playoffs last year is basically intact.