After a long and dreadful wait for the free agency decision of Major League Baseball (MLB) phenom, Bryce Harper, his decision has come and broken the heart of many Washington Nationals fans. Harper, who was drafted by the Nationals with the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft, signed with Washington’s division rival, The Philadelphia Phillies on Feb. 28 where he will earn $330 million over the course of 13 years.
Harper was the face of the Washington Nationals franchise, the player who brought fans to the ballpark, the one who fans bragged about for years and most importantly, the player who had the “key” to the district. A Harper home-run typically sounded like an explosion of excitement that simply could not be contained, as a sea of over 40,000 fans chanted “Harper, Harper, Harper!” The spikey-haired 17-year-old outfielder, in 2012, who brought juice to manager Davey Johnson’s ballclub, that clinched their first playoff berth in team history, is no longer a Washington National.
Now, the player who was the face of the Nationals franchise will come into Nationals Park nine games a year, in an opposing jersey. The player who was seen as the first who The Nationals would ever honor with a statue outside of Nationals Park turned his back on the franchise that made him into the player he is today for one sole reason: monetary gain.
The Phillies have not had much success in the last few seasons. However, they have had a promising offseason. The additions of players such as Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, David Robertson and Jean Segura will likely lead them to become a strong contender in the 2019 season and beyond.
However, it is still crazy to think that Bryce Harper will be a part of the Philadelphia playoff push and not Washington’s. Harper had unfinished business in Washington, never advancing past the first round of the playoffs in his time in D.C.
Harper is now joining a Philadelphia fan base that will never have the same respect and gratitude for him that Washington had. For example, when rumor spread that Harper was not signing with Philadelphia, the fans rioted throughout media outlets. A radio station in Philadelphia opened the lines for callers when the Phillies chances to retain Harper were reportedly “remote” with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers rumored to be heavily involved in the pursuit of Harper. One Nationals fan stated that, “As far as Harper’s concerned, whether he signs with San Francisco or L.A., when whichever team he’s on comes here, I’m going to make damn well sure that I’m there at the stadium with the other people, hopefully it will be a sellout crowd, because we’re going to boo him so bad. If I had a chance, I would spit in his face.” They do not deserve you, Bryce Harper.
Now, the Washington Nationals get to see what life is like without Harper. They get to see that they are a better team without him: they have been weighed down by his boastfulness and cockiness, and are now a team with a whole lot less ego and a whole lot more energy. With the subtraction of Harper and the addition of number one prospect, Victor Robles, the team is in good hands. Robles’ plus speed, stellar defense and energetic vibes are going to pair up well with the rest of the younger team members, most notably phenom outfielder, Juan Soto.
In addition, the ballclub will have a lot more money freed up now that The Nationals aren’t tied to a player who had a .271 batting average in 2018 with a contract of over $330 million. The club will have the money to retain key players such as Anthony Rendon. In addition to retaining important players, they will be able to make a run at other big-name free agents in coming years such as Mike Trout.
Fans should applaud Washington owner Ted Lerner, General Manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez for avoiding Harper and his agent, Scott Boras’ trap. Washington is a contender and will be for years to come with their young core and stellar pitching staff, which has a fiery vibe headed into the season. Last year, Harper seemingly weighed on the chemistry of the clubhouse. Washington Post reporter Thomas Boswell stated of Harper’s lack of fundamentals: “when the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a ground ball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.” The team will now be motivated to prove that they can survive without the presence of their former superstar, and will not be weighed down by a self-consumed right fielder.
Thanks for nothing Bryce Harper, the fans are looking forward to seeing you on Apr. 2 in Nationals Park facing the four-time Cy Young award winning pitcher, Max Scherzer. Do not expect a welcome greeting after leaving the team that you were a major part of for a division rival. Thank you for no World Series championships, not raising a statue outside of Nationals Park and most importantly not making our owner waste money on a player who has no loyalty to the city that raised him.