As the deadline to sign that year's Draft picks approached in August of 2010, the Washington Nationals announced deals with 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis, 4th Round pick A.J. Cole and 12th Round pick Robbie Ray, then finally, moments after midnight, Bryce Harper, the no.1 overall pick that year.
"Nationals and Bryce Harper have agreed to terms," former Nats' GM Jim Bowden wrote on Twitter that night, "waiting on final numbers and details."
"Nationals agree to terms on a major league contract with OF Bryce Harper," the Nats' official Twitter account reported.
"Final on Harper," Yahoo!Sports.com's Dave Brown wrote, "$9.9 million over five years, $6.25 million as bonus. Plus $500,000 roster bonuses in '14 and '15."
According to details of Harper's deal published on Cot's Contracts, the $6.25M bonus was to be paid out, "in [five] installments of $1.25M, 30 days after approval and each July 1, 2011-14," there were "roster bonuses" worth, "$0.125M each for 30, 60, 90, 120 days on [the] active major-league roster in 2014, 2015," and the Nationals, "... agreed to pay for eight semesters of college."
What the Nats and Harper's side didn't agree on, however, as Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore reported in November of 2013, was a clause that would allow Harper to opt out of the original deal if and when he became arbitration-eligible:
"[T]he Nationals insisted that the contract not contain a clause that would allow Harper to opt out of the contract terms and into baseball’s lucrative salary arbitration system once he was eligible; Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, was equally adamant that the virtually standard opt-out clause be included."
When it came to signing the actual contract, the, "...final written contract... did not contain an opt-out clause."
"Anticipating the possibility that Harper, at the time 17, could reach the majors sooner than expected," the WaPost writer reported, "Boras and the Harper family refused to sign it."
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, Kilgore wrote, "took the unusual step of interceding with a compromise" and came up with "... a letter of agreement stating that, if Harper qualified for salary arbitration before he reached the end of the contract, a grievance hearing would determine whether he could opt out of his contract."
As the WaPost writer suggested at the time, Harper, who debuted in the majors in early 2012, was likely to qualify for Super Two status after the 2014 campaign, which he did, so if the Nats and their now-22-year-old slugger don't agree on a resolution, they could be headed to a grievance hearing at some point in December.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, noting as the WaPost's Kilgore did back in 2013, that an opt-out clause was included in 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon's major league deal, wondered last night why the Nationals would want to "pick a fight with Bryce Harper"?
The fight, Rosenthal writes, is a, "... battle that the Nationals, in particular, should do everything possible to avoid.":
"Even if they hold the winning argument, they stand little to gain by antagonizing a potential franchise player."
"The hearing has not yet been scheduled," Rosenthal reported, "but would take place in December, in advance of the annual exchange of arbitration figures in January, sources said."
The questions? Will the Nats and Harper work out a long-term deal beforehand so that a hearing is unecessary?
Would the Nats just "relent and allow Harper to become arbitration-eligible" as Rosenthal asks?
Why were the Nationals so set against the opt-out clause being included in the original contract?