Coming off of his outstanding 2015 National League MVP campaign, Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper struggled last season, hitting just .243 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 147 games played.
Whether or not his struggles were of the mental or physical variety, they nonetheless were a major disappointment for one of the game's young phenoms.
However, the 24-year-old right fielder has gotten off to a hot start so far this year, hitting .320 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs through his first 48 games heading into Monday night.
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On May 13, Harper and the Nationals agreed on a one-year deal worth $21.625 million for the 2018, avoiding arbitration. It was the largest one-year deal ever given to an arbitration-eligible player.
The deal essentially means that Harper will be under Nationals control through the 2018 season, but will have full control on where he signs his mega deal in free agency at the conclusion of that campaign.
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Via Eddie Matz of ESPN, an American League general manager (who wasn’t named) said Harper is going to be very rich after signing that eventual long-term deal. "He is going to get paid. Like, paid paid,” the GM said.
The number of $400 million has been floated around for the last few seasons, and the anonymous GM thinks the number might end up being even be higher than that.
“Four hundred million is light,” the GM said. “It's going to be more than that. If you could sign him to a 15-year contract, you do it. I would say something in the range of $35 million a year, maybe closer to the high 30s. It could approach 40 million dollars a year.”
It’s worth noting that a 15-year deal worth $40 million a year would be a $600 million contract.
Matz explained why that number isn’t as ridiculous as it may initially seem:
“Those numbers aren’t coming out of thin air. Based on average annual value, the highest-paid player in today’s game is right-hander Zack Greinke, whose contract with the Diamondbacks earns him better than $34 million per season. On the one hand, Harper’s not a pitcher like Greinke (or Price or Scherzer). On the other hand, he (A) already has one MVP on his résumé, (B) is in the conversation for another, (C) hasn’t even hit his prime yet, and (D) is repped by super-agent Scott Boras,” he wrote.
Therefore, Harper becoming the highest-paid player in the MLB should be expected.
Giancarlo Stanton currently holds the longest and highest-valued contract in the MLB at 13 years and $325 million. Considering the fact that Harper will be 26 years old when he begins to field offers in free agency, a 15-year deal would take him past the 40-year-old mark.
Miguel Cabrera is in an eight-year, $248 million deal with the Detroit Tigers and Troy Tulowitzki, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano are all in 10-year deals.
Therefore, the question becomes how long Harper will want to sign for. If he is comfortable with a 10-year contract, the overall value will still likely eclipse $350 million. However, if he decides to accept a Stanton-like length or anything more, the numbers could even approach $500 million or more.
In other words, baseball fans should strap in for what should be an absolutely wild ride next winter.
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