It’s only been three games, but Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies look like a match made in heaven. Harper has smashed two home runs and walked four times, leading the Phillies to a 3-0 start.
Turns out, it took quite a bit for that perfect match to come together. At least twice during free agency, the 26-year-old Harper was convinced he was going to re-sign with the Washington Nationals, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.
The first came after Harper received the 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals. Team brass, including owners Ted and Mark Lerner, handed that offer to Harper in the middle of his final game in Washington, D.C.
Harper was excited about the offer, and thought the team could build off it, according to Svrluga.
“I was kind of shocked at it, because it was kind of like, ‘Hey, this is an offer you can’t reject, and it’s gonna be great,’” Harper said. “I was like, ‘All right, cool. I got it. We can build off that. We can work off that.’ If that’s their first offer, cool. Awesome.”
Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, did not take that offer. They didn’t speak with the Nationals for a few months. Around Christmas, both sides met again. That meeting had Harper convinced he was coming back to the Nationals. He even told his wife, Kayla Harper, to be ready to go back.
“I’m sitting there like, ‘I’m gonna be a National. I’m gonna be a National,’ ” he said. “‘They’re going to make me an offer this week. We’re going to build off of that, and it’s gonna happen.’ I told Kayla, ‘Be ready to go back.’ I flat-out told her. I was psyched. I was like, ‘Be ready to go back, because if we can, we’re going back.’ I was pumped.”
He felt that way until he got the team’s second offer. The Nationals wanted to give Harper a 12-year, $250 million deal. The deal would have contained deferred money that would have paid Harper until 2072.
That offer — which was for more years, but less money — was what made Harper think he might go to another team.
In the Nationals’ defense, the team had signed Patrick Corbin at that point. That could explain why they didn’t want to offer $300 million on Harper months after their initial offer.
Eventually, the Phillies gave Harper everything he was looking for. He got a long deal with no opt-outs. Though Harper and Boras were still waiting on a final offer from the San Francisco Giants, Harper told his wife, “We’re going to Philly.”
While Harper wound up leaving D.C., he expressed his love for the fanbase, saying he cherished his time playing in front of them.
The D.C. faithful will have a chance to welcome Harper back with open arms — or with lusty boos — Tuesday when he returns to the nation’s capital for the first time as a member of the Phillies.
To welcome Harper home, the Nationals have moved Max Scherzer up a day so he can pitch in Harper’s return. That might be the just the thing that spoils Harper’s awesome start with his new team.
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