Former National and Phillie Jayson Werth was unsurprised to hear about his former teammate’s decision to sign in Philadelphia, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Werth knows the trek up I-95 well, as he went the opposite direction in the winter before 2011 when he ended a four-year run in Philly by joining a DC club that had drafted Harper the June prior. Werth’s perspective is unique, obviously, because of his relationship to mentee Bryce Harper, but Werth said he and Harper never discussed free agency or Philadelphia, despite speaking a couple of times over the winter. Werth likes the deal for both sides,“You’re getting a young Bryce Harper for his whole career,” says Werth. “You’re going to get him through tons of prime years. Compared with some of the other deals that are out there, it’s fair in the market for both parties. If you’re Bryce, I think you love the years. If you’re Philadelphia, you probably love the price.” Werth fans will appreciate this update from his post-playing days, which is going about as one might expect: he has his hands full with organic farming, snowboarding, and the launching of his own hemp processing business in Illinois. Let’s check in on a couple other Harper notes…
- Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia takes a look at the ten free agents in Philly history who made the biggest splash upon signing. Current 76ers GM Elton Brand makes the list, as does Werth’s former teammate Cliff Lee and MLB’s hit king Pete Rose.
- The Nationals bid Harper a fond farewell from their Twitter account in advance of his introduction in Philly. There does not appear to be quite the level of heartbreak one might expect from fans in Washington, perhaps due to Harper’s early flirtations with the Yankees, or the protracted nature of his departure, or the fact that his national fame predates his Nats career. Of course, the suppression of hurt feelings is a time-tested defense mechanism after a breakup, though the development of Juan Soto and Victor Robles certainly helps soften the blow. Harper leaves the Nationals second to only Ryan Zimmerman in many offensive categories since the club moved to Washington, including home runs, walks, runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. Add in the organization’s history in Montreal and Harper’s .900 OPS ranks second all-time, bested only by Vladimir Guerrero’s .978 OPS with the Expos.
- Harper’s future teammates, meanwhile, are excited about the expectations Harper brings to the club, per MLB.com’s Richard Justice. Already many of the comments from Phillies players like Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen center on this team’s potential as a World Series contender. “[Harper] wants to be a Phillie for the rest of his career, pretty much. I get goosebumps thinking about it,” says Jake Arrieta, a guy who knows something about what it takes to win a World Series. “I doubt I’ll play for another 13 years, but I would love to be here for 13 years with him.” It’s safe to say Arrieta will need to kick his pilates routine into high gear if he’s to stick around that long, as he will turn 45 in March of the final year of Harper’s deal.