Updating the initial reports on the Washington Nationals’ “aggressive offer” to Bryce Harper at the end of the regular season, Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes reported that it was a 10-year/$300M contract that Harper and his agent Scott Boras turned down in the weeks before the recently-turned 26-year-old outfielder officially became a free agent.
“[The Nationals] offered Harper $300 million for 10 years in a deal that included no opt-outs, according to multiple people familiar with the terms,” the WaPost reporter wrote today.
USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale wrote on Twitter earlier today that that offer, “is no longer on the table although it doesn’t preclude talks from resuming before they make financial outlay for others,” adding in an article on the Nationals’ attempt to get something done before the outfielder tested the market that, “... talks can be resumed, of course, but the Nationals still are trying to sign at least one starting pitcher and a catcher in free agency and don’t want to be left without anyone filling any of their voids if Harper departs for another team.”
[ed. note - “So, ‘one starting pitcher and a catcher’? Does that mean that the Nationals think they have second base covered for 2019 or is it just an oversight? Will it be Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick (if healthy) at second? Carter Kieboom, who’s played second in the Arizona Fall League? Someone else? Trade targets maybe? We’ll see, I guess.”]
Folks out there had plenty of opinions on the latest information coming out on what it might take (in terms of total value and AAV) to get Harper signed:
Some thoughts on #Nationals’ 10-year, $300M to Harper, as reported by @chelsea_janes: Did Nats consider it a mere starting point or a final gesture that would enable them to say, “We tried?” Deal did not include opt outs. Not known if it had deferrals to lower present-day value.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2018
#Nationals surely knew Harper and Scott Boras would never accept $300M without opt-outs as first offer. Nats could still be fallback if Harper does not get what he wants - if they are willing to wait. Bar now set for other interested teams. Harper goal: Beat Stanton’s $325M. https://t.co/kbeFlpXfDO— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2018
The price for Bryce is reportedly more than $300 million! @Joelsherman1 weighs in on the market for Bryce Harper on #MLBNHotStove. pic.twitter.com/I0Wm6WbU9e— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 7, 2018
thoughts: 1. it's likely now harper will beat stanton's $325M record. 2. it's a nice try, but the nats had to believe it was a long shot to prevent a superstar from filing for free agency with days to go. 3. hard to imagine he can't just go back & take it/negotiate off it. https://t.co/d6DGOZPXUj— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 7, 2018
While Harper and Boras declining to accept that offer doesn’t end the possibility of the 2010 No. 1 overall pick returning to the nation’s capital, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo did tell reporters that, “[i]t behooves us to have an expiration date,” so that the Nats can fill their other roster needs this winter, knowing what they have available in their budget, with the WaPost’s Janes writing that, “... as one person familiar with the situation said, they ‘can’t have $300 million dangling out there for months.’”
Harper and Boras clearly think there’s a better deal out there (and why wouldn’t they test the market once they got to within weeks of free agency?).
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office know they have options, including going with Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton left to right in the outfield in 2019 (for a total, combined salary of around $13M) with Michael A. Taylor as an option off the bench.
How long will the Nationals wait before they move on? How much higher are they willing to go (if at all) to bring Harper back to D.C. in 2019 and beyond?
Will some team out there have to give Harper the highest AAV (Average Annual Value) to get a deal done?
As the WaPost’s Janes noted in today’s article, “Zack Greinke ($34 million), David Price ($31 million) and Clayton Kershaw ($31 million) all got more,” than the $30M per in the Nationals’ offer, “and Max Scherzer got exactly $30 million,” in 2018, though no position player in the majors has ever, “earned an average annual value of more than $27.5 million.”
Do Harper and Boras want the outfielder to be the highest paid position player ever... or the highest paid player period overall?