The biggest story this MLB offseason would be the two superstar free agents in their mid-20s. One of them, Bryce Harper, reportedly received a huge extension offer from the Washington Nationals in September to stay put instead of testing the waters. He didn’t take it. From the Washington Post:
According to multiple people familiar with the negotiations, the Nationals discussed terms for a new deal with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, throughout September. Those conversations led to what one person called “an aggressive offer.” That offer included no opt-outs, and was less than the $400 million some have speculated Harper could receive, according to a person with direct knowledge who would not disclose the exact terms.
USA Today reported that Harper rejected a 10-year, $300 million deal from Washington.
It’s not a surprise that the Nationals would try to make sure Harper didn’t hit free agency, but this is still pretty interesting. An aggressive offer here likely tops Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million contract, so the hunch is the Nats went with something like 10 years and $350 million.
Yes, that sounds staggering, but MLB teams are swimming in cash and the Lerner family (Nationals owners) are billionaires.
At the general managers’ meetings on Tuesday night, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed the two sides discussed a deal, adding that the team is not “closing any doors” with Harper in free agency.
“We’ve had conversations and we utilized our exclusivity to negotiate with him late in the season through when he became eligible to sign with a team,” Rizzo told reporters. “We didn’t get anything done, but he’s a guy that is near and dear to us and we are not closing any doors.”
Harper is hitting free agency far sooner than most, due to debuting in the majors while in his teens and still has likely at least five prime years left, if not seven or eight. Even in his decline, he’s likely to be a very productive player.
Don’t dismiss this news as Harper out-and-out rejecting the Nationals. He’s going to test the free agent waters, but he still very much could wind up back in D.C. As he’s pointed out before, he essentially grew into a man there. He debuted at 19, spent seven seasons with the franchise and met his wife there. He has a life in Washington D.C. Maybe he’s ready to move on, but it’s possible he likes said life there and that could matter.
For now, we continue waiting. Once he rejects the qualifying offer — the deadline is this coming Friday — things really kick into gear regarding rumors.
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