What would you do with $330 million? How about $430 million? Would you buy a house? New car? Maybe book a dream vacation to Europe? Well, recent Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels signees Bryce Harper and Mike Trout can buy a few of the aforementioned items and trips. In fact, they can each buy $300 million worth of them.
Two weeks ago, the Phillies hit the jackpot when media outlets announced that Harper decided to make Philadelphia his home for the next ten years. The goliath contract easily surpassed all other team sports contracts making Harper the highest paid ballplayer in the country. Up until yesterday, that is, when Mike Trout signed a $430 million contract with the Angels surpassing Harper’s contract.
Philadelphia has a rich sports culture propped up by the NBA title won by Julius “Dr. J” Irving’s Sixers in 1983, the World Series championship gained during the Ryan Howard-Phillies era in the late 2000s, and the recent Eagles Super Bowl LII victory of 2017. Essentially, Philadelphia fans will expect nothing short of a championship as their return on investment. These same fans have endured process rebuilds (a la 76ers) and a shake-up to their Eagles roster of giant proportions when they recalibrated the team during the Chip Kelly era, and they expect to create a culture of winning in the city of brotherly love.
It’s highly likely that the Phillies will make a deep run in the playoffs this year as they boast a roster consisting of ace pitchers Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola, star catcher J.T. Realmuto, and stellar infielder Jean Segura. It’s safe to say that Harper will have a solid supporting cast to work with.
Trout, however, has solidified his place as the best baseball player in the game while falling short of securing championships for the Angels. Trout’s marketability and his consistency in delivering multiple home run hits, and RBIs each season makes him the most coveted player in the game. But, Angels fans must feel that its high time for Trout to deliver on the expectation that comes with being the highest paid player in the game. For Angels fans, the team has always been just a day late and a dollar short.
Comic book nerd that I am, I can’t resist channeling my inner Uncle Ben: “with great power comes great responsibility” and with $330 and $430 million comes championships, or at the very least multiple years of title contention. Harper and Trout’s contracts have forced the baseball world, perhaps the entire sports world to zero in on their performances this year. For Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, it’s World Series or bust.