Brian Markley
Staff Writer

When the Philadelphia Phillies first faced a fresh-cut, young Bryce Harper in his rookie season, they decided to welcome him to the big leagues by plunking him with a fastball. Now, he will be the face of the Philadelphia Phillies for the foreseeable future.

Last week, I wrote about the San Diego Padres and all-star third-baseman Manny Machado completing the then largest deal in American professional sports. Well, that record was broken pretty quickly.

Bryce Harper, the last big ticket free agent available on the market, signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for a reported $330 million over 13 years with a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs. The deal was reported done on Thursday, February 28.

This move makes the Phillies the undisputed kings of the off-season. They added short-stop Jean Segura, veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, key relief pitcher David Robinson, traded for the best all-around catcher in the game in JT Realmuto, and now they top it off with the biggest addition of them all, former National League MVP Bryce Harper. The new look 2019 Phillies are going to be extremely explosive offensively. However, they are still lacking in the pitching department.

Their rotation will be headed by National League Cy-Young runner up Aaron Nola, who was stellar last year with a 17-6 record and a 2.37 ERA. However, the likes of an aging Jake Arietta and question marks in Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez could be of some concern. They can address this concern by adding former Houston Astro Dallas Keuchel, who is the best free agent starting pitcher available. With the addition of Harper, though, it seems unlikely they make this signing. Maybe they try to trade for a pitcher, but I’ll let this deal shine for today.

All of that being said, the Phillies have propelled themselves back into contender consideration. However, the rotation needs to be addressed before I can confidently say they are World Series contenders. Adding Harper, who rakes at Citizens Bank Park, boosts this team’s offense so much that the rotation might be an afterthought. With a projected 1-5 of Segura, McCutchen, Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Realmuto is terrifying to any team, regardless of who is on the mound to face them.  

The National League East is now one of the most interesting divisions in baseball, with four of the five teams all making big additions and looking to take the crown. I think this makes the Phillies division favorites, as long as their pitchers named something other than Aaron Nola aren’t horrific. On a side note, if I were a Nationals fan, I’d give him some resounding boos when the Phillies visit Washington this season.   

Yes, Harper had a down year in 2018. He is still one of the best players in the league, and the Phillies’ front office should be applauded for what they have managed to do this offseason. With the last domino to fall, it is time for the show to get on the road. We are less than 30 days away from opening day, and now that Harper is singed, it’s time for baseball.