Back in the Spring of 2016, Bryce Harper was asked by 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier about the possibility of signing a record-breaking deal when he hit free agency, which was two years away at that point. There were rumors at the time that Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, were looking to get something in the $400M dollar range.
”I was talking to an executive this offseason,” Paulsen said, as quoted in a transcript 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. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win,” Harper said.
“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.”
We noted at the time that Harper was joking, or at least laughing as he had this discussion, but there was probably some truth to what he was saying as well.
This past September, with the season winding down, with free agency approaching, and with Harper’s Washington Nationals out of contention, the subject of an extension once again came up, with a sign on the F1RST Residences building across the street from Nationals Park, suggesting that it would be nice to have “8 more years of 34” in D.C.
Harper was asked if he’d seen the sign and if eight more years in the nation’s capital playing for the Nationals seemed about right?
“Yeah, a couple years off,” Harper joked the first time it came up.
“I don’t know, I mean eight more years sounds kind of short,” he added when he was asked again.
So, a 10-year deal or more? For how much?
We’ll leave the guessing up to you in the comments.
What do you think Harper will eventually sign for? Where is he going to end up?
Scott Boras, when he spoke to reporters in Washington, D.C. in early July, was asked how he expected the free agent market to play out this winter after a weird one last time around.
“I mentally have a memory void of last winter,” Boras joked.
All kidding aside, however, Boras, as you might expect, did have some thoughts about why this winter will be different.
“Last year was probably the classic solar eclipse of baseball,” Boras said, “because [Shohei] Ohtani literally shut down the free agent market for 30 days, because every team focused on getting the minimum-salaried superstar. You don’t get minimum-salaried superstars, you get players — and then the right of free agency was so diluted by the compressing of All-Star players. There are seven or eight All-Star players that were essentially cast away, ‘We have to get rid of them,’ a sale if you will.
“You have four from Miami, two from Pittsburgh, one from Tampa, and look at the impacts those players, [Marcell] Ozuna in St. Louis, or [Giancarlo] Stanton in New York, Gerrit Cole in Houston, and when you look at the impact of what those star players, [Christian] Yelich in Milwaukee, have had on franchises, and in every instance, they’re getting a player they have control over, or they’re getting a player that does not carry the burdens or commitments of free agency.
“So when you have four or five major free agents in the market, and then you put seven more into that market, and then you defer the market by adding Ohtani to it, you have a totally different viewpoint ... as to how teams are going to work to be competitive and to be better, and plus then you add to that, that four teams were in the market that refused to spend beyond the luxury tax threshold, then you add to that that there were probably close to eleven teams that said we are in the non-competitive world.”
“Other than that it was a normal market,” Boras continued, “and none of those factors — four of the five of those factors are not going to be in play this year, because the luxury tax teams are all reset, now you’re not going to have a dilution of free agency like you had before. There’s a great pitcher coming from Japan, but he’s going to be a posted pitcher, he’s going to be in the free agent market at normal rates, so I think the market will be grandly aggressive because a lot of teams sustained movement because the opportunities for getting pitching talent and getting players of uniqueness — how long has it been since we had 26-year-old free agents? Well the answer is it’s been well over 15 years, and so you don’t get these players, and these players, a player like Bryce Harper is unique in the sense that he makes you money in addition to the service he provides. He’s iconic. And so these are opportunities where teams are looking at a very unusual look at something that they rarely ever will have an opportunity to obtain.”
So, again, a 10-year/$300-$400M deal? Is that what it’s going to take?
New York Daily News’ writer Bill Madden wrote recently that Boras, “... who only a couple of years ago was talking about Harper becoming the first half-billion dollar player, is going to have to do quite a selling job on someone to get his prodigy anywhere close to even 10 years/$300 million,” after Harper struggled in the first half of the 2018 campaign before turning things around and putting up the sort of numbers we’re accustomed to seeing from him after the All-Star Break.
Fancred’s Jon Heyman wrote that the Nationals are entering the offseason with plans to go forward with or without Harper, though he stressed that, “... they do plan to make a strong effort to try to keep superstar outfielder Bryce Harper.”
So what’s your best guess as to what it’s going to take to get Harper to sign on the dotted line this winter? And where do you think he’ll end up?