Yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent outfielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year deal worth $330 million. Although he did not land in the NL West with the Giants or Dodgers, who both placed offers for Harper, with the Giants being most competitive, the signing still impacts the Colorado Rockies outlook on 2019.
The Philadelphia Phillies, by both length and amount, made the largest free agent signing of history with a 13 year deal for $330 million for outfielder Bryce Harper. His deal overthrows the Manny Machado 10 year, $300 million deal, which held the title of largest free agent deal in major league history for about a week.
While Machado’s deal can impact the Rockies because the Padres are in the NL West, like the Rockies, they are a bit further back than the Rockies in overall talent.
However, with Harper, the Phillies are one of the top teams in the National League and arguably, the best team in the National League East. Even if the Phillies aren’t the best team in the East, it makes the East a lot more interesting of a division.
The Atlanta Braves, by and large, have the same team from last season, a team that won the NL East with a record of 90-72.
The New York Mets have gotten better as they have acquired 2018 American League All-Star starting catcher Wilson Ramos, 2018 All-Star infielder Jed Lowrie, 8-time All Star Robinson Cano, 2018 American League leader in saves Edwin Diaz, and reliever Jeurys Familia, among others.
The Nationals, even though they lost Harper, have added second baseman Brian Dozier, 2018 All-Star catcher Yan Gomes, catcher Kurt Suzuki, free agent starter Patrick Corbin, and relievers Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal. Also, an anonymous teammate of Harper on the Nationals said that Harper leaving Washington would be an “addition by subtraction.”
On top of that, the Miami Marlins have gotten worse, as they have subtracted one of, if not, the best catcher in the game, JT Realmuto, the aforementioned Kyle Barraclough, first baseman Justin Bour, and Derek Dietrich. As a result, the other records of NL East teams will be better. Fangraphs projections has every NL East team besides Miami above .500.
The NL Central will also be better as the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals have improved with additions of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Sonny Gray, Jose Iglesias, and the aforementioned Derek Dietrich for the Reds and Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller, among other, for the Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers will still be good too. In fact, Fangraphs projections have all four of those teams being over .500 and the Pirates are bringing up the rear, but only with a record of 78-84.
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Both of these bode badly for the Rockies because, by far, their best shot at returning to the playoffs is by winning the NL West, a division that the Los Angeles Dodgers have won six seasons in a row. As a result of the other NL teams being stronger, per Fangraphs projections, the Rockies are among seven NL teams to be vying for the two NL Wild Card spots between 81 and 86 wins. Those projections have the Rockies at the bottom of that heap as they project them at 81-81.
PECOTA projects a bit rosier picture for the Rockies at 84-78 but still, that would not figure them into the playoffs. Originally, before the Harper signing, the Rockies would have been one game out of the second Wild Card in those projections. Now, the Phillies, in the jumbled NL East, have a projected record of 89-73, which is tied with the Nationals. The second NL Wild Card team, PECOTA projects the Mets to win with a record of 87-75.
In both projections, the Dodgers are projected to be much better than the Rockies as Fangraphs has the Dodgers winning the NL West by 12 games and PECOTA has them winning by 9 games.
Essentially, at least by the projections, the Rockies only shot at the postseason was by the Wild Card. The Phillies signing of Harper weakened that.
Now, obviously, there’s a reason why games aren’t played by computers. Simply put, the game isn’t played by computers and isn’t managed by computers (well, managed well at least). If it was, the Dodgers would have won the World Series the past two seasons (hint: they didn’t). Also, they can’t predict injuries and other signings and trades made before the July trade deadline.
However, the computer generations do give a guideline on what to expect and the signing of Harper with the Phillies makes the outlook on the 2019 Rockies more gloomy.