Mets privately are not enthused about Bryce Harper to the Phillies – Fixie News
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Mets privately are not enthused about Bryce Harper to the Phillies

JUPITER, Fla. — Bryce Harper is returning to the Mets’ neighborhood to spread his goodwill — for only the next 13 years.

The biggest fish of this offseason’s free-agent class has reached agreement with the Phillies on a historic $330 million contract that runs through 2031 and provides the 26-year-old Harper with full no-trade protection without the possibility of opting out, multiple sources — including The Post’s Joel Sherman — reported Thursday.

Harper’s jump from Washington to Philadelphia leaves the Mets with another obstacle to overcome in the short and long term as they attempt to establish NL East superiority.

Privately, Mets players and officials had been rooting for Harper to pick the Giants or Dodgers as his destination. One threat had already been avoided when Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year contract worth $300 million with the Padres last week.

The Mets were never in play for Harper after deciding early in the offseason, under the direction of new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, that allocating resources on team depth was the approach to take over pursuing a Goliath.

Earlier in the offseason — following the additions of Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jeurys Familia and Wilson Ramos, among others — Van Wagenen anointed the Mets as the team to beat in the division. But he wasn’t quite bold enough to repeat those words Thursday.

“I believe we can beat any team at any time and no player signing is going to change that mindset,” Van Wagenen said at Roger Dean Stadium, after the Mets played an exhibition game against the Cardinals.

Does that mean the Mets are the best team in the division for the marathon of a season?

“I think I’ve already answered that,” Van Wagenen said.

Harper tormented the Mets over seven seasons with the Nationals, albeit not to the level he pounded other opponents. Even so, in 109 career games against the Mets, he slashed .272/.377/.504 with 23 homers and 67 RBIs.

The biggest criticism of Harper is the Nationals never won a playoff series in four attempts during his tenure with the club.

“It was a tough division before he was coming back and it’s going to be tougher now, but we’re worried about what we have got here,” Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said.

“We are worried about the guys that we have got, the work we’re putting in here. Obviously this is big news because there has been a lot building up to this moment, but we are just worried about us and we are excited about our team and ready to go toe to toe with the Phillies and the Nats, Miami, whoever it is.”

Conforto, who shares an agent with Harper in Scott Boras, added: “Scott is a bulldog. He is going to go out there and fight for his guys every day. He always preaches that for us and says we’re ultimately the quarterback of the situation, so I think I knew he definitely was going to do everything he could for Bryce and for the rest of his guys.”

Harper’s contract eclipses the $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton received from the Marlins before the 2015 season as the largest, in terms of overall dollars, in North American sports history.

The annual value of Harper’s contract is $25.38 million, which ranks only 15th all time. The number is manageable enough to the Phillies for potential luxury-tax purposes in the future.

The Phillies’ big offseason has included the additions of J.T. Realmuto, David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura in addition to Harper. Other big names still on the market include starter Dallas Keuchel and reliever Craig Kimbrel.

If the Phillies aren’t enough of a handful, the Nationals and defending NL East champion Braves are also loaded with talent in what could be baseball’s best division.

“I feel like we stack up great,” Conforto said. “Our lineup is long, our starting pitching is great as it has been in the past, I think we bolstered the bullpen and we play great defense, so I think we have the potential to compete.”

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