WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's free agency took center stage at the annual General Managers Meetings this week, kicking off what is sure to be one of the most high-profile and highly anticipated free agencies in recent memory."Certainly, Harper's bazaar has begun," his agent, Scott Boras, said to a herd of
WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's free agency took center stage at the annual General Managers Meetings this week, kicking off what is sure to be one of the most high-profile and highly anticipated free agencies in recent memory.
"Certainly, Harper's bazaar has begun," his agent, Scott Boras, said to a herd of reporters in Carlsbad, Calif., on Tuesday. "It's fashionable. It's historical. It's elite. Global, certainly. And certainly, it has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair."
Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Washington Post reported Harper and his camp turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract from the Nationals with no opt-outs on the last day of the regular season. That would have been the largest free-agent contract in MLB history.
And it makes sense that Harper declined it.
While that contract would be the largest for a free agent, it would not surpass Giancarlo Stanton's record-breaking 13-year, $325 million deal from 2014, nor would it surpass Zack Greinke's $34.42 million for the highest average annual value. Harper has confirmed he is seeking a long-term deal, but accepting a contract with no opt-outs would lock Harper up for the entirety of his prime without giving him the chance to earn more money should player contract values continue to rise with increasing revenues throughout the sport.
If Harper and his camp are seeking a record-breaking deal of as much as $400 million, getting such a lucrative offer from Washington before any other bidders were allowed to enter the picture must be encouraging. Now, they are expecting teams such as the Cardinals, Giants, Phillies and White Sox to get involved, although Boras would not rule out the Cubs and Yankees, who have reportedly denied interest.
Boras once again described Harper, who just turned 26 last month, as a generational player on Tuesday, combining elite performance and accomplishments with his young age and the potential to be the face of a franchise. As Boras sees it, players who have accomplished as much as Harper at this age have an inside track toward the Hall of Fame.
Those factors made Harper always a near certainty to reach free agency, especially considering Boras' history with his high-profile clients. To get so close to testing the open market and then sign an extension would have represented a drastic change in direction. The Nationals know all of these factors, which made Harper always unlikely to accept such an offer.
But they made it anyway, a last-ditch effort while they held his exclusive negotiating rights. Perhaps the proposed deal was merely to establish a starting point for negotiations, or maybe it was simply a good-faith offer made before Washington turns its efforts elsewhere. Either way, that offer is currently off the table, and general manager Mike Rizzo said the club will not wait all offseason for Harper to sign.
However, Rizzo said he was open to more negotiations with Harper in the future, and Harper's camp feels the same.
"I think Bryce is open to a lot of opportunities," Boras said. "He's listened to a lot of things. … As we go through this, I think he's going to hear everything from everyone and he'll certainly make an informed decision as to what's most important to him."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.