After signing ace Stephen Strasburg to a relatively modest seven-year, $175 million extension, the Washington Nationals now turn their attention to Bryce Harper. The reigning National League MVP doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season, but the Nationals would love to ink the once-in-a-generation 23-year-old to a long-term deal.
Just don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, regardless of what staggering and historic numbers the Nationals may offer.
“If you sign him today, you’re better off,” Washington’s 106.7 The Fan host Grant Paulsen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “That’s where we’re at. The sooner you get it done, the less theoretically you’re going to have to pay him. I think that in some way paying Strasburg now is further setting a foundation. The problem they’re going to have is that while Scott Boras advises and is the agent for Strasburg and he got a deal signed with Washington ahead of free agency – which is rare for one of his clients – he’s not going to allow Harper, in my opinion, to do a deal a few years out of free agency. It’s a very different thing.”
Last year, Harper hit .330 with 42 home runs, 99 RBIs and 118 runs. This year, he has a .433 OBP with 10 homers and 27 RBIs despite getting walked seemingly all of May.
As for Strasburg’s bargain deal, let’s not forget that the 27-year-old had Tommy John surgery in 2010, which limits the amount of money a pitcher can earn.
“Jordan Zimmermann this year going to Detroit was the first player to get a $100 million contract as a pitcher who has had TJ in the past,” Paulsen said. “I don’t think (a mega) deal (for Strasburg) would have been done anyway. I think they would have held out, they would have had a bidding war, they would have got $215 million to get into that David price, Max Scherzer area – and it wouldn’t have happened anyway. So I think Boras is going to play hard ball with Bryce Harper – and he should. (Boras) had the first $100-million player and $200-million player, and Harper will soon chase Giancarlo Stanton’s $300 (million). But the question is will it be $400 or $500 million?”
The other question is, when will it get done?
“I think there is an hour glass element of this for fans, as they worry and they kind of tick toward free agency a few years out and fearing that he leaves for New York,” Paulsen said. “But if you’re Boras, you’re in no hurry to get this done because you have faith that with each passing season comes either another MVP campaign or another 35-40-homer, 1.000-OPS, All-Star year where your guy is going to keep earning more and more money.”