Harper signs with Nats for almost $10 million

Bryce Harper speaks to the media in June

In the final minutes before Tuesday morning’s deadline, the Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a contract with Bryce Harper, the 17-year-old baseball prodigy they’d made the first overall pick in June.

The contract is worth $9.9 million over five years guaranteed, the largest ever for a drafted position player. It includes a signing bonus of $6.25 million, along with additional bonuses of $500,000 per season if Harper is on the Nationals’ roster in 2014 and 2015. The Nationals also agreed to pay for the rest of Harper’s education.

Harper was at home in Las Vegas when the deal was reached.

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Asked when the contract was complete, Harper’s advisor, Scott Boras, said, "I don't know. When I looked up, it was 8:59 [Pacific Time]."

[Photos: See the teen phenom]

As of Monday night, Boras said, a decision had not been made whether Harper would take a professional at-bat before spring training.

The signing comes a year after the Nats paid a record $15.1 million for San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg(notes) (another Boras client) and nine years after the Texas Rangers established the still-standing record for a position player by signing Mark Teixeira(notes) (yet another Boras guy) to a contract that was worth $9.5 million at inception, and with bonuses was worth about $10.5 million. Harper’s contract betters that.


“He deserves it,” Boras said, “because he really is that gifted.”

Harper’s signing culminated a radical plan that required a unique course.

Harper, who turns 18 in October, batted .443 with 31 home runs and 98 RBI as a freshman for the College of Southern Nevada, using primarily a wood bat. In order to enroll at the junior college (and therefore become draft eligible), Harper withdrew from Las Vegas High School after his sophomore year and, in December, received his General Equivalency Diploma.

A left-handed hitter, Harper played catcher, right field and third base for CSN. The Nationals on draft day announced him as an outfielder, but there remains some sentiment within the organization to have him catch, which presumably would delay his advancement.