Bryce Harper seems intent on breaking the record for the most money ever given to a professional athlete in a contract. At least that’s the feeling you are left with after USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported Tuesday that Harper rejected a “megadeal” from the Nationals on the last day of the 2018 season.
Nightengale noted that the contract would have given Harper $30 million per year and that the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, along with the Nationals, will all be in the hunt.
The Washington Post‘s Chelsea Janes gave more information about the proposed contract, saying it contained no opt-out clauses and that it was below $400 million, a number that Harper has desired to hit in the past.
As Tyler Byrum of NBC Sports Washington wrote, Harper gave an emotional interview during the final game of the 2018 regular season. “[I’m] getting a little emotional right now, because you never know. I was happy to be able to go up there and hit a double, write it off like that. If I’m back, I’d love to be. If I’m not then you know, we’ll see what happens.”
This isn’t the first time Harper and the Nationals didn’t see eye-to-eye on a contract proposal. Nightengale wrote back in December of 2016 that the Nationals were apparently “taken back” by Harper’s demands, which at the time had been the same number he appears to be looking for now: 10 years and $400 million. With his latest action, it seems Harper and agent Scott Boras won’t take anything less, which could very well impact which teams will show interest in him. There are only a handful of teams that could absorb a contract of $400 million plus, with the Phillies being one of them.
Harper, a six-time All-Star, is hitting free agency after a semi-disappointing season in which he hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. Harper only managed a bWAR of 1.3, his lowest since 2014.
Still, the 2015 National League MVP carries an impressive resume along with undeniable talent. The Phillies have long been rumored to be interested in Harper, as well as fellow free-agent superstar Manny Machado. Bovada (via Oddshark) recently released the odds each team had of signing Harper and Machado, and the Phillies were favorites for each, with even odds on Harper and +150 on Machado.
According to Fancred‘s Jon Heyman, there has been talk that the Phillies could potentially sign each of the free agents. At the very least, it appears Philadelphia should be in the hunt for both until the end. It should make for a very exciting offseason, one that could potentially change the course that the franchise is heading.
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