After much anticipation, deliberation, negotiation, and flat-out frustration at times this offseason, the Phillies are once again a force in the National League. This change in hierarchical ranking, of course, is largely due to the acquisition of generational talent Bryce Harper. It only took 117 tumultuous days for the superstar slugger to find a home, but in the end, it was Philadelphia that signed the 6x all-star to the largest contract in the history of professional sports.
On the surface, the 13-year, $330M pact between the two sides seems steep. A deeper glance into the details of the contract, however, reveals a relatively team-friendly deal in terms of Average Annual Value (AAV):
Despite inking the largest contract the sports industry has ever seen, Harper’s $24.5M AAV ranks modestly at 13th in MLB history. The Phillies front office, spearheaded by Klentak, did a brilliant job of spending aggressively without handcuffing themselves down the road- as is common amongst deals of this magnitude. Locking up the face of Major League Baseball through the prime of his career stands as a humongous win for the Philadelphia franchise on its own, but to maintain financial flexibility even after doing so is simply outstanding and marks the latest stroke of genius from Klentak.
Firmly locked in negotiations with the relentlessly stubborn super-agent Scott Boras and desperate to acquire his generational client, Klentak could have easily gotten antsy and thrown out a bloated contract offer out of pure panic- without worry of complaint from Philly faithfuls who were just as desperate to see Harper don the red pinstripes. If stupid money was what it would take to land the young phenom, the fans and even team Owner John Middleton were ready and willing to roll out the Brinks truck and make it happen. Instead, Klentak exercised patience and poise, realizing that no other Harper suitor had the financial means to outbid him, and simply waited until Boras was done fishing for fantasy offers elsewhere then made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Now, Bryce Harper is a Phillie(!), presumably for the rest of his career, and the Phillies are once again in the upper-echelon of the National League. The move likely concludes what now can only be regarded as a masterful offseason for Klentak, who deserves an immense amount of praise for his flawless execution this offseason. This offseason hasn’t just been terrific for the Phillies in terms of talent acquisition, it’s unprecedented:
The Phillies acquired three all-stars this offseason. THREE! Not to mention the addition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen just three years removed from his NL MVP season. The job Klentak has done is truly remarkable and shouldn’t be lost in the bravado of acquiring Harper. After losing out on southpaw ace Patrick Corbin to the Nationals early in the offseason and suffering a similar fate with stud infielder Manny Machado at the hands of the Padres a little over a week ago, this offseason came very close to being considered a disappointment.
Sure, the addition of Segura, Realmuto, and McCutchen are moves worth being excited about and make the Phils a much better ball club. Entering the season without one of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper would be underwhelming, to say the least, and leave a sour taste in the mouth of fans and team officials alike. Due to the calculated efforts of Klentak, however, the team will return to the City of Brotherly Love as championship contenders, having snagged the top free-agent available.
I’m not pining for a statue outside of Citizens Bank Park just yet, but what Klentak has accomplished this offseason is the stuff of legend and should be remembered as the catalyst for the inevitable championship parades on Broad Street scattered over the next decade plus. After seven consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance, the Phillies are now positioned to take the league by storm and on paper have the makeup of a potential dynasty- and they have their third-year general manager to thank. Take a bow, Klentak, take a bow.
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports