Bryce Harper Was This Close To Being On The Houston Astros

In October 2022, all eyes were on Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper (via The New York Times). In 2009, Sports Illustrated dubbed the then 16-year-old as "Baseball's Lebron." Needless to say, Harper, who was 30 in 2022, has lived up to this sentiment. In October of that year, ESPN reported that the slugger hit perhaps the most important home run of his career. Ultimately, this led the Phillies to victory; the team won 4-3 against the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series. Most importantly, this meant that the Phillies were heading to the World Series for the first time since 2009 to face the Houston Astros (per AP News).

Per NPR, Scott Franzke, a radio announcer for the Phillies, said that Harper is "the money player." He went on to say, "There's not many that can hold a candle to Bryce Harper when he's on — and right now he's on." As legions of baseball fans awaited the results of the World Series, some were surprised to learn that Harper was almost traded to the Astros (via the Houston Chronicle). But as the publication explains, this was an ill-fated venture.

This is why the deal with the Astros fell through

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Astros were interested in acquiring Harper in 2018. At the time, the baseball slugger was playing for the Washington Nationals (via the Bleacher Report). Jeff Luhnow, who is the Astros general manager, revealed to the Houston Chronicle that they intended to trade players Abraham Toro, Randy Cesar, Josh James, J.B. Bukauskas, and Kent Emanuel for Harper. However, this deal, which was outlined by Luhnow and the National's manager, Mike Rizzo, never happened. Luhnow divulged that National's owner Ted Lerner disapproved of this trade. It seems that Lerner did not want to let go of his star player.

The MLB reports that Harper previously won Rookie of the Year and an MVP Award. That said, the publication explains that Luhnow originally told Rizzo that he wanted Kelvin Herrera. Somehow, the conversation shifted to Harper. Rizzo stated that the acquisition could be done "for the right package." However, Rizzo failed to convince Lerner, and the deal fell through. In 2019, Luhnow publicly admitted that a trade had been in the works and stated (via Twitter), "It didn't happen and we moved on." Instead, the MLB states that the Astros went on to gain three new players: Martín Maldonado, Ryan Pressly, and Roberto Osuna.

Bryce Harper's record-breaking deal with the Phillies

Although the trade with the Astros didn't work out, CNBC writes that Bryce Harper was off to big and better things. In early 2019, it was revealed that he had signed to a massive $330 million, 13-year deal with the Phillies. This exceeded the $325-million deal Giancarlo Stanton made in 2015 with the Miami Marlins (per The Guardian). This also marked the end of Harper's time with the Nationals, the team he had been playing with since the start of his major league career. Sports Illustrated adds that this deal occurred shortly after Harper became a free agent.

The New York Times reports that both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants were interested in Harper. In the end, however, the Phillies won him over. His agent, Scott Boras, explained, "He wanted to go to one city, stay there, build a brand and identity and recruit players." Although this was a massive risk to the Phillies, financial and otherwise, it has clearly paid off. As the Phillies headed to the World Series, John Middleton, the Phillies' managing partner, stated (via the MLB), "All the things we thought he [Harper] was turned out to be true." He added, "There have been no disappointments."