Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals has already won an NL Rookie of the Year Award, been to four All-Star games and won an NL MVP award at the tender age of 24 years old. Highly touted out of high school and chosen as the No. 1 pick of the 2010 MLB Draft, Harper has quickly proven himself to be worth all of the hype, and much more. With his current contract with the Nationals expiring in 2018, many people have speculated that he could sign the biggest deal in MLB history. If that is in fact the case, it appears that the Washington Nationals don't want any part of it.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals have begun contract talks with Harper to try to get an extension done before he reaches free agency. But according to a "high-ranking Nationals executive," the team is preparing to move on from the 24-year-old superstar, once his contract expires in 2018 as a result of the money he is looking for.
Per the unnamed Nationals executive, an exact figure hasn't been brought to the table by Harper or his agent Scott Boras. But he believes that Harper is seeking a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of over $400 million that spans 10-plus years. According to Boras, he hasn't had discussions with the Nats on his superstar client, only arbitration-year discussions.
Harper currently makes $6 million a year on his current deal, though he is eligible for arbitration this season. Boras though, has a long-standing reputation for not allowing his clients to sign long-term extensions before they can reach free agency. While this strategy is a gamble for some players, eschewing security now for a bigger payday in the future, if Harper remains healthy, it is a gamble that will surely pay off. If Harper does end up getting the $400 million contract he is seeking in 2018, it will be by far the largest contract in MLB history, eclipsing the 13-year, $325 million contract signed by Giancarlo Stanton in 2013.
So, it looks like the clock is ticking on the Bryce Harper/Washington Nationals relationship. The team has two seasons to make the most of their young stud, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive they will be in free agency and the trade market as a result.