Money money money money, money.
This past week, Bryce Harper, MLB’s top free agent, signed a record contract worth $330 million over 13 years. This contract became the largest contract in pro team sports history, breaking the previous record of Giancarlo Stanton’s $325M deal.
That is a lot of money for one player, but that’s the nature of free agency in baseball. With no salary cap, teams can sign multiple players to deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars if they want to spend the money. That being said, baseball is a sport where one player can’t necessarily win a championship by himself. Starting pitchers are the closest exception to the argument because they single-handily shut down the entire offense for a full game and can pitch multiple times in a playoff series. A stud position player like Bryce may only get 4 at bats a game so his opportunities to put runs on the board are limited. Plus, the ball may not come to him on defense so he won’t have an impact on every single play.
Keep that thought in mind as we circle back to Harper’s contract. Obviously, the Phillies want to win a World Series. Why wouldn’t they? It’s the goal of every team in the MLB. Because of the record contract, the pressure is on Bryce to win and deliver the Phillies a title fairly soon. I saw the following question on Twitter and it poses an interesting debate.
How many titles does Bryce Harper have to win for you to say a 13-Year, $330 million contract was worth it? How many championships does Harper need to win to justify his contract?
First of all, let’s start with the obvious. If Bryce does not win a World Series with the Phillies, then the signing was not worth it. I understand Bryce can’t impact the game on every play, but there are a lot of things that Bryce can do to help his team win. For starters, Harper needs to return to his 2015 numbers where he won the MVP and hit .330, 42 HR, and 99 RBI. Harper also needs to be like LeBron James and become a master recruiter. Harper needs to attract other top free agents to come sign with the Phillies. Playing like an MVP and shaping a winning roster are tasks that Harper must do during his tenure in Philadelphia.
Back to the question, this is an easy answer. Bryce Harper needs to win one World Series title with the Phillies in order to validate his contract. That’s it. Multiple titles would be icing on the cake, but one title would justify the signing. Fans are greedy. I get it. I’m a fan, too. Fans tend to be irrational and believe their team can win the championship every year. Unless you’re a Patriots fan, your team is not winning the championship or at least playing for a championship every year.
One championship title can go a long way for a franchise and a city. The Cubs waited 108 years between championship victories. 108 years! Fans died without ever witnessing a championship. Most Cub fans can now die happy, knowing that their team finally broke the curse in 2016. Ask the fans of franchises who have never won Super Bowls, World Series, or NBA Titles like the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Utah Jazz. I bet all of these fans would trade their lives (I’m being serious) to witness one championship in their lifetime. You cannot put a price on the happiness you feel after your favorite team wins a championship.
So Bryce Harper, the pressure is on. You have 13 years to win at least one championship. Good luck.