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$400-$450M for Nationals' slugger Bryce Harper? Don't sell him short... $750 million?

Jon Heyman's hearing things about what it might take to lock up Bryce Harper for a long-tern deal and whether it's the Washington Nationals or some team that signs him once he hits free agency, someone is going to pay...

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Do you remember Bryce Harper's response when 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen asked this Spring about the chatter about a potential, future, record-breaking $400-$450M deal for Washington's 2010 No. 1 overall pick?

"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. That's what you're doing right now to me, so don't do that."

"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." -Bryce Harper to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen

He said that with a laugh, for the record. But seriously, don't sell him short.

"I'm looking forward to just playing this year," Harper continued. "Just looking forward to playing the next couple years. And I think all that stuff will play out."

Jon Heyman, who is at Today's Knuckleball now, wrote today that there may be a reason that Harper's representatives and the Nationals haven't yet engaged in any serious discussions about a long-term extension, noting that with, "... concerns about the Nats’ limited local TV revenues and Harper’s likely asking price," it could be tough to work out the sort of deal Harper could command.

"Word going around is that it may 'begin with a 5' as in $500 million, or perhaps even more than that – [and that] may severely limit their chances to keep the relationship going past 2018."

Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals' front office locked up their '09 No.1 overall pick last month, signing Stephen Strasburg to a 7-year/$175M extension with free agency pending after this season before he agreed to the deal.

Heyman, however, wrote that the Strasburg deal, "... believed by one Nats person to be 'player driven,' may not suggest Harper will be easier than anyone imagined."

You don't have to rely on an anonymous "Nats person" who says that the Strasburg extension was "player driven" of course.

Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, and Rizzo said as much during and after the press conference to officially announce the deal.

"My job, I work at the privilege of Stephen and Rachel Strasburg," Boras told reporters.

"So every year we meet in Southern California, over the ocean, and have that moonlight dinner and the Strasburgs pretty much give me the road map to what they want to do and such, and in this situation, Mr. Lerner called me and told me he had interest in advancing with Stephen.

"I communicated that to Stephen and Rachel and certainly there was a will on both sides and I think we were able to execute something that both sides are very happy with."

"We had a discussion with Scott and I think Scott, he works for the players and I think this was player-driven. I think that Stephen wanted to be here..." -Mike Rizzo on Stephen Strasburg's extension

"We had a discussion with Scott and I think Scott, he works for the players and I think this was player-driven," Rizzo said.

"I think that Stephen wanted to be here and he expressed that interest to Scott and we hammered out the best deal that we could."

Boras was asked at the time if he thought the deal with Strasburg could impact future talks about Harper. He said then that the Nationals' desire to remain competitive was a positive.

"I think every player wants to play on a good team. They want to play for ownership that has the wherewithal to keep a good team together.

"And certainly this is a good team and I think the owners have proven that they have the wherewithal to keep a good team together so that creates a strong probability of consideration, I'm sure, for any great player."

Rizzo wasn't so sure when he was asked if he thought one deal could potentially affect the other.

"I do not," he said. "I think... each case is different, each personality is different. Each player is different. Their wants and needs are different and I think that they are independent of each other."

"The Nats-owning Lerners, GM Mike Rizzo and Boras have an extremely close relationship," Heyman wrote today.

"And to this point they seem to work almost anything out; at one point Boras had as many as 10 players on the Nats."

But... Heyman added, and this is a fairly big but...

"Maybe the Nats have heard the whispers that the asking price may be $40 to $50 million a year, and perhaps for 15 years (that could make it as much as an astounding $750 million)."

Boras, in a phone interview with Heyman, "said he 'didn’t want to get into the pricing.'"

"Boras places Harper in a category with just a 'few players' who can attract players, and attract fans," Heyman wrote.

"Said Boras, 'The value of these players is exponential with the revenue of the game. There are only a few players where that algorithm works."

Rizzo, talking to Heyman as well, confirmed that the two sides hadn't yet had any serious talks.

"We have not to this point had any substantive negotiations about a long-term deal," Rizzo said:

"He still has two years of arbitration to go. I think they’ll be open to discussions in a broad view. He knows what our interests will be. We certainly want him to be a National for a long time."

"I don’t think we’re in position yet to talk about a unique deal," Rizzo told Heyman. "And by unique, I mean expensive."

Harper is, of course, under control for two more years after this one as Rizzo has noted before.

"We've got quite a bit of control left on him," he said this winter.

"He's going to be a unique and special situation for the franchise and I'm sure that will be a discussion with myself and ownership in the future."