The Washington Nationals made a valiant effort to try and secure a long-term deal with star Bryce Harper. But Harper has other plans.
After the Washington Post reported that Harper had turned down the Nationals’ “aggressive offer” for a long-term deal on the final day of the 2018 season, Post beat writer Chelsea Janes tweeted some additional specifics. The deal had no opt-outs, and was far below the $400 million that many have speculated that Harper can land.
Nationals’ offer to Bryce Harper was roughly $300 million for 10 years — so an AAV of $30 million — according to multiple people familiar with it. No opt outs.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) November 7, 2018
Harper received a qualifying offer from the team last week, which means he could return to the Nationals next season on a one-year deal and make $17.9 million, if he accepts. While he has until next week to make his decision on that offer, it would be a shock if he accepted that deal.
The 26-year-old just wrapped up the second season of his two-year, $35 million deal with the Nationals. Many have speculated that Harper could break the current record for largest contract should he find the right deal as a free agent this offseason — which was most recently set by Giancarlo Stanton when he signed a $325 million deal in 2015.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo briefly addressed the situation on Tuesday at the General Managers’ meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., telling the Washington Post that “we took advantage of our exclusivity late in the season” to negotiate with him but “couldn’t reach a deal.” Considering the reported details of the Nationals’ offer — $30 million a year with no opt outs — you have to wonder how serious the team was about keeping him around. It’s almost certain that other teams will make offers that will far surpass that, and include a number of player-friendly extras that the Nats didn’t bother to include.
The six-time All Star, former Rookie of the Year and MVP, held a .249 batting average for the Nationals last season, hit 34 home runs and had 100 RBI.
Scott Boras making strong case for Harper signing
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday afternoon advocating for his client, and gave multiple reasons why he believes that signing Harper means signing a Hall of Fame player.
“How many athletes when they finished and became a free agent were 25 years of age? Well, since 1980 there have only been four of them, and Bryce is the fourth,” Boras said. “When you go through [some of Harper’s best stats], you find out that the only players who have done what he’s done to reach those levels of performance, every one of them is a Hall of Famer.
“So now you go in and say, ‘Everybody who does this,’ and I have 14 ways to show why someone who at 25 or younger who does this, in every instance, is a Hall of Famer. So you get to say to everyone involved, this is what we’re dealing with.”
Boras also argued that Harper — who has played in the outfield throughout his MLB career — could switch and play first base for the Yankees.
The first argument is definitely stronger than the second, as any team willing to offer Harper a potentially record-breaking deal will likely want to keep him in the outfield. Boras, though, is certainly trying to get his client the best possible deal — no matter where it takes him.
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