In a recent interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen, reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper was asked about the possibility of a one day signing a record-breaking deal.
"I was talking to an executive this offseason," Paulsen said, as quoted in a write-up on CBSSports.com, "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," Harper said. "I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win."
"But don't sell me short," he joked. "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."
He was asked today in his first meeting with reporters this Spring, for his thoughts on potentially getting $400-$500M one day, and he said pretty much the same thing, reiterating that he was focused on the upcoming season and the time he knows he will be in D.C.
"I've got three years to play. I've got three years to do everything I can to play this game," Harper said.
He also reiterated what he told Grant Paulsen about not limiting him or anyone else.
"You can't put limits on players," Harper said. "You can't put limits on what they do if that's on the field, off the field with everything they do. It's just something that, everybody says everything like, 'The sky is the limit,' but we've been on the moon. So, you can't really tell me that. It's just a big thing about putting limits on guys and doing everything they can to put it in the media and things."
"That's the biggest thing," he explained further. "Don't put limits on guys, don't do everything you can to put those limits on guys, let it play out and I think it will play out to what everybody hopefully thinks it will. I just want to go out there and play the game I can and play it hard and enjoy the game of baseball."
A reporter noted that many people, and Yankees fans, in particular, think it will play out with Harper eventually going to New York when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season. His thoughts on that possibility?
"I'm a National and that's what I want to be right now," Harper responded. "I have the 'W' on my chest for the next three years. Very humbled to put the 'W' on my chest every single day. I love the nation's capital. I love D.C. I'm getting chills just thinking about it right now. It's such a monumental town, beautiful town and I look forward to playing there every single day for the next three years and that's what's on my mind right now."
Does that mean three years and he is likely gone? Is he just saying he knows that he'll be in D.C. for the next three seasons and that's what he's focused on?
Whatever opinion you bring to the conversation likely colors your reading of the quote.
Is it possible that he leaves as a free agent after the 2018 campaign? Sure. Scott Boras is his agent, after all, and Boras often takes his clients to free agency to let the market set their value.
He's also said that he he has respect for players who spend their whole careers with one team and he's constantly expressed his love for the nation's capital like he did today.
Harper's focus, is on the task at hand. His goals for the year, coming off a .330/.460/.649, 38 double, 42 home run, 9.5 fWAR campaign in which he led all National League hitters in On-Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, Weighted On-Base Average (.461), Weighted Runs Created Plus (198), Isolated Power (.319) and Wins Above Replacement and finished the season tied for first in Home Runs (42) and second in walks (124) and Batting Average?
"Very excited to be back out here," he said. "Just looking forward to a great year with everybody. Very excited about the guys we have, the new additions that we have, our new staff from medical to hitting to baserunning, first base, third base, everybody. New manager. Can't be more excited about having Dusty [Baker] and Davey Lopes and Mike Maddux join and really looking forward to playing for them and just excited to learn something new every day here in Spring Training with them."
With new faces on the bench and in the clubhouse and coming off such a big season, Harper was asked if he would take on more of a leadership role, but he said he didn't really think of himself as a leader.
"I don't think I'm a leader. I think I'm more just a guy playing the game," he explained. "I think J-Dub [Jayson Werth] and [Ryan Zimmerman] and all those guys are the leaders. Those are the guys that are going to go about it every single day and do the things that they think are right for this team. I'm not a very vocal guy, so I'm going to go out there and just play the game I can and not really take a guy to the side in front of the camera and go, 'Oh, hey, you gotta do this!'
"I'm more inside the clubhouse trying to do everything I can to help guys out if they need it, but I'm still at that stage where I'm still looking at J-Dub, I'm still looking at Zim to do everything they can to make the best moves for this team and play as hard as I can out there and hopefully lead by example."
Baker, who brings nineteen years of experience as a player, and twenty years as a major league manager, said today he thought Harper was probably right about his place in the clubhouse.
"I think he's right, you know," Baker said. "He has leadership potential, but he's not a leader yet.
"How many people are going to follow the youngest kid in the room and just because you're the most talented doesn't mean you're the leader, you know. I don't think it's really fair to put that even on him. I think he has some good examples for the day when he does take over the leadership role. Because he's learned how from J-Dub and from [Max] Scherzer, from Zimmerman and he's learned some things I think from [Jonathan] Papelbon, guys that have been there. And I've always said that leaders are anointed, they're not appointed and people gravitate towards leaders. I mean, Ted Williams was the MVP, but I never heard Ted Williams was a leader."
Harper said that he didn't feel any more pressure or have any more confidence coming off his MVP season. He told reporters he was just looking forward to the start of the season.
"We have such great talent. We have such great young talent. I'm excited to see Joe Ross do what he can for a full year. I'm excited to see Lucas Giolito hopefully get up to the big leagues this year throwing a billion [mph]. So, I'm just very excited about the guys that we have, such a great minor league system that we have. Just looking forward to seeing J-Dub play every single day. [Danny Espinosa] playing every single day. I'm excited about [Daniel Murphy] hitting homers off lefties hopefully and just very excited to be part of it."