Phillies GM Klentak doesn’t balk at idea of $300-$400 million contract

Matt klentak

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak discusses the idea of eventually giving a record contract. (Frank Klose/Philliedelphia)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier this week that the Washington Nationals were 'taken aback' by Bryce Harper's request for a 10-year/$400 million contract extension, with the report suggesting the team is unlikely to retain Harper past the 2018 season, when he is eligible for free-agency. 

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was asked about whether the team would ever approach a contract in the range of $300 or $400 million, and gave an interesting answer to Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice

The idea of giving a deal of this magnitude would be come especially relevant at this time in two years, when the aforementioned Harper and Manny Machado highlight what is expected to be the greatest free-agent class in the history of the league. 

Klentak's answer, though it didn't address the specific numbers of $300 or $400 million, makes sense. The Phillies figure to be an ascending team with a lot money to spend at that time, so ruling anything out years in advance wouldn't make sense. 

As loaded as the 2018 free-agent class may be, most free-agents won't be approaching $300 or $400 contracts. They may make over $30 million plus annually, but probably not that the 10-year length that it would take to approach the type of deal that we are discussing. 

Harper and Machado seem like the only players who could realistically approach those numbers. Harper will be 26, which is eerily similar to when LeBron James became a free-agent in 2010  at age 25, signing with the Miami Heat prior to the best four individual seasons of his career. Machado will be 26 as well. Clayton Kershaw, who has an opt-out after 2018, could also be a free-agent, possibly putting him in line to get an eight to 10 year deal at a similar price range. 

Considering Kershaw will be 31, he probably wouldn't be a smart investment. In normal circumstances, signing players for a decade isn't a good practice regardless of who the player is, though superstars like Harper and Machado normally don't become free-agents when they are 26. 

Both are likely to get 10-year deals, like Alex Rodriguez did when he signed a then-record 10-year/$252 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000 at age 26. Rodriguez was productive through 2010, which would have been the end of the original deal. However, after his MVP campaign of 2007, seven years into the deal, he opted out of that contract and set a new record with a 10-year/$275 million deal, which he signed at the age of 32. 

Harper and Machado are likely to follow a similar path. They will sign 10-year deals, but those deals are likely to have opt-outs, which the players are near locks to take, after the fifth or sixth seasons, enabling them to get a second gigantic payday. At that point, it's fair to wonder if re-signing them in their early 30s to record deals makes sense. That strategy didn't work out for the Yankees, and hasn't worked out for the Los Angeles Angels with their 10-year contract with Albert Pujols. 

But if the Phillies were to consider signing one of the two in 2018, they would likely be signing essentially a six-year/$200 million deal — the dollar figures are an estimate — which wouldn't be that bad if you consider the age range you would be getting the player for. 

As mentioned above, these two won't be the only free-agents in 2018. If the Phillies aren't comfortable giving out this type of deal to one of these two players, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Harvey, A.J. Pollock, Josh Donaldson and Adam Jones are among other players that may be available at that time. But signing one of Harper and Machado at their desired price might not be as crazy as it sounds.