MLB rumors: Bryce Harper wants to recruit others to Phillies; Nationals eyeing extension for Anthony Rendon

At long last, the two premier free agents of the 2018-19 class — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — are off the market. Machado is of course a member of the Padres, and Harper finally landed with the Phillies. The season has never felt closer. Yet free agents such as Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unemployed. To give you an idea of what’s out there on Friday, we’re here to round up all the notable trade and free agency rumors. As always, our Free Agent Tracker is a great way to catch up on what’s already happened on that front. Now let’s jump in … 

Harper wants to recruit others to Philly

Bryce Harper’s deal with the Phillies is is reportedly for 13 years and $330 million. Put the huge length of time and huge amount of money aside for a second and let’s focus on the other wrinkles of his megadeal: Full no-trade rights and no opt-out opportunities. He could always agree to waive the no-trade clause, but the deal is a representation of his full commitment to the Phillies through his age-38 season. Machado’s Padres deal, meanwhile, includes an opt-out after the fifth year meaning Machado will have the option of re-entering the free-agent market following his age-30 season. 

Not to mention, Jeff Passan reports that Harper wants to recruit other players to join him in Philly.

When Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas, he was joined by his wife, Leigh, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Passan has more on why Middleton and the Phillies were able to sell Harper such a huge commitment to their team:

In the meetings that led to him becoming the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports, Bryce Harper kept coming back to one word: family. The protracted, bordering-on-interminable nature of his near-four-month-long free-agent odyssey never changed that. He knew what he was worth. He knew the teams courting him knew, too. He wanted to be paid, sure, but he also wanted to feel like his next team shared a shatterproof commitment.

So when Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton took his private jet from Florida to Las Vegas a week ago, he wasn’t alone. Accompanying Middleton was his wife, Leigh. They wanted to show Harper and his wife, Kayla, that family mattered to them as well — that they would compound years and dollars with actions that spoke to what he sought.

That alone didn’t convince Harper to agree to a massive 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies on Thursday. It did inform other elements of the contract, namely the lack of an opt-out clause and presence of a full no-trade clause. While opt-outs were discussed during the negotiations, Harper, in the end, said he didn’t want one. If he was going to convince others to join him chasing championships in Philadelphia, players needed to know he wasn’t going anywhere.

Keuchel, Kimbrel unlikely options for Philly

The Phillies signed Harper to a 13-year contract worth a record $330 million, and while Phillies owner John Middleton said the club was ready to spend “stupid money” this offseason, it doesn’t appear that the team will be spending any more big dollars for top free-agent pitchers Dallas Keuchel and/or Craig Kimbrel. Here’s more on why the Phillies are unlikely to sign either player.

Nats eyeing long-term extension for Rendon

Now that the Nationals are officially out of the Bryce Harper race, the team will try to sign third baseman Anthony Rendon to a long-term extension, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. After the Rockies signed Nolan Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million extension, Rendon became the top third baseman available next year.

The Nationals drafted Rendon sixth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, and both Rendon and Nats general manager Mike Rizzo have publicly expressed interest in working out an extension to keep him in D.C. for the rest of his prime and beyond. Rendon is represented by Scott Boras.

Rendon, who will turn 29 in June, has been one of the best players in baseball the last two seasons, hitting .305/.389/.534 (138 OPS+) with 85 doubles and 49 home runs from 2017-18. His 4.2 WAR for Washington last season was just second behind Max Scherzer.

Categories: National Sports

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