Far from the buzz of Times Square sits a team looking to rebuild with a committed payroll of $5.3 million in 2019. In a year where Manny Machado and Harper might hit the open market, the Philadelphia Phillies have tens of millions to spend.
Odubel Herrera is the lone Phillie under a guaranteed contract. Stars such as Aaron Nola hit arbitration for the first time. Baseball Reference estimates the payroll after required contracts is around $37 million. They can woo Harper.
If this ends up being a pure money grab, the Phillies have a chance. They have a good farm system with decent pitching. With $100 million available, they can build a team around Harper in a heartbeat. Add those powerful opt-out clauses, and the risk of getting stuck on a bad team diminishes.
Philadelphia is a top market with unbridled expectations from their sports teams. If the Phillies want to build baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors, they can. Steve Kerr might throw out a first pitch. Stephen Curry could shoot threes from second base.
Of all the individual teams in this piece, the Phillies are the longest of shots. But, they have the financial resources to throw Harper AND Machado in the same lineup.
Hard to imagine Harper drawing a standing ovation, however, on his Washington return. Ever.