The Phillies are waiting out the Bryce Harper drama. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak openly spoke of "potential free agents" that the Phillies could pursue later if they do not add a key free agent now. Well if that is going to be the case, subtract Nolan Arenado off of that list.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Rockies and Arenado are finalizing an eight-year contract:
BREAKING: Third baseman Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies are finalizing an eight-year, contract extension worth more than $255M, league sources tell ESPN. Deal includes an opt-out after three years, would give Arenado the largest per-year salary of any position player.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 26, 2019
This could affect the Harper negotiation in a big way.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the final number is $260 million. That means the average annual value of this contract is $32.5 million. This helps bring up the value of a potential Harper deal. If the Phillies were looking at a contract that was closer to the $30 million that Manny Machado received from the San Diego Padres, the Phillies probably will have to contend with meeting or beating the $32.5 million that Arenado will receive.
Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported today that the offer to Harper by the Phillies exceeded $300 million:
Phillies have offered Bryce Harper over $300M but word is others are over $300M, too. they believe they may have high bid but their confidence to win was dented a tad by emergence of LA (a desired Harper spot). Philly has to decide whether to keep faith or dip into the stupid $ — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 26, 2019
The Phillies might have to up that offer if it is closer to Machado's average total deal and annual value.
Additionally, if the Los Angeles Dodgers, seen as the chief competition for Harper, had their eyes on Arenado as a free agent next season, they might have to look elsewhere. Maybe that means that they will be more likely to go to Harper for a long-term deal. The Phillies could be driven up in price based upon that. And certainly Harper agent Scott Boras will look to try to frame that angle.
Further, the New York Yankees reportedly had their eyes on Arenado after next season. With Arenado off the board, might they check in on Harper? We might hear some rumblings about that. Rosenthal also reported that Arenado will have an opt-out clause in his contract after year three. That could pressure the Phillies to provide such an opt-out. The Phillies may prefer to make an investment in Harper that includes an opt-out later in the deal. Arenado's deal could be pointed to as the standard.
Boras and Harper have oft been reported as looking to exceed the $325 million number that Giancarlo Stanton received in 2014. If the Phillies went $326 million, they could exceed the average annual value of Arenado, which will be the largest ever for a position player, and simultaneously exceed the highest-dollar contract ever.
If the Harper situation was close to a resolution, it might have just gotten a little more complicated. Arenado has set the new bar for average annual value for position players on the heels of Machado setting the length. The Phillies will likely have to beat both now.