Everyone knew Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper would seek a mega-contract when he hit free agency. Now, we may finally have a sense of his demands. Harper is reportedly looking for a 10-year, $350 million deal as the starting point in negotiations, according to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score.
Keep in mind, 10 years and $350 million isn’t necessarily the final deal he’s seeking. It’s merely a starting point if the report is true.
If Harper can get that much, he would become the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball history. New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton currently holds that title after signing a 13-year, $325 million deal when he was a member of the Miami Marlins.
Stanton’s contract may have been the reference point for Harper and his agent, Scott Boras. If you’re out to get the highest baseball contract of all time, you might as well start the bidding slightly above the current record.
While that figure seems high considering Harper hit just .249/.393/.496 in 2018, the outfielder has a few things going his way as he hits the market. Harper was called up as a 19-year-old, which means he’s just 26 now. That’s substantially younger than most players who hit the market. Harper is still squarely in his prime, meaning teams won’t have to worry about age-related decline with him for quite some time.
On top of that, there are reasons to believe Harper will bounce back after a tough year. His career slash line is .279/.388/.512. While Harper’s average lagged in 2018, he still hit 34 home runs and ranked ninth in on-base percentage. Even in a “bad” year, Harper still did plenty of things well.
Setting the starting point at $350 million is a huge ask, but few players have Harper’s talent. Combine that with Boras’ ability to get his clients massive deals, and that $350 million figure might not look so outlandish this offseason.
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