Surely you remember Washington Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper’s comments when 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen asked him last winter about the idea of signing a $400M contract at some point in the future?
"At one point they said you could be the first $400 million player. Do you ever think about your future and what's possible, in terms of you could break records for the money you make at one point in time?"
"Yeah, I mean I don't really think about that stuff. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win. But don't sell me short. That's what you're doing right now to me, so don't do that.”
"I'm looking forward to just playing this year.. Just looking forward to playing the next couple years. And I think all that stuff will play out."
[ed. note - “It’s worth noting that Harper was laughing when he said the ‘Don’t sell me short’ part.”]
Harper struggled at the plate in 2016, posting a .243/.373/.441 line with 24 doubles and 24 home runs in 147 games and 627 plate appearances, finishing the year at 3.5 fWAR, down from 9.5 fWAR in his NL MVP-worthy campaign in 2015, which saw the 2010 No. 1 overall pick post a .330/.460/.649 line with 38 doubles and 42 homers in 153 games and 654 PAs.
According to a source USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale spoke to, however, Harper’s struggles haven’t brought the asking price down if the Nationals want to sign an extension that will keep him in D.C. beyond 2018.
Nightengale wrote today that “a high-ranking Nationals executive” who was “speaking on the condition of anonymity” told him the Nationals were, “balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension,” and, “now are preparing themselves to be without their All-Star outfielder after 2018.”
Harper’s “demands” as Nightengale was told?:
“Harper, according to the executive, is asking for a record deal that will exceed 10 years in length, and likely pay him in excess of $400 million.”
Nightengale later adds that, “... [w]hile no specific dollar amount has been broached by high-powered agent Scott Boras, the executive says Harper is seeking a deal more than 10 years in length, believing it would exceed $400 million.”
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, is quoted in the article saying that, “... the only active negotiations” on Harper have to deal with his 2017 salary.
Harper is arbitration-eligible and was tendered a contract last week.
Boras also told Yahoo!Sports.com’s Jeff Passan today that they haven’t talked about an extension:
Scott Boras to Yahoo Sports: "I have had no discussions with the Nationals regarding Harp and a long-term contract."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 5, 2016
When GM Mike Rizzo talked about a possible extension for Harper last winter, he said that he would, of course, like to lock the left-handed hitting slugger up long-term:
"It would be something that I'm all for," Rizzo said in an MLB Network Radio interview.
"He's a great player. He's a guy who really loves Washington, D.C. It's not lip-service. He really enjoys being there. And he's not only a great player, but a great personality and a great person. And these deals aren't always as easy as we'd like them to be and it's going to be very lucrative."
Ten years+ and $400M lucrative? What will he command in free agency if he comes close to his 2015 numbers over the next two seasons?