In this week’s MLBTR Mailbag, Steve Adams opined that it might take a 13-year, $375MM offer — or more — for the Nationals to make a serious run at extending outfielder Bryce Harper. That number factors in an estimated $36MM over two seasons of arbitration eligibility (2017-18) and then eleven more years at a $31MM AAV. A contract of that magnitude would be enough to best Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325MM deal (which also included a significant opt-out provision).
That’s an immense amount of cash, but Harper is about to cap a 10 WAR season at just 22 years of age. The Scott Boras client will hit the open market before he turns 26 years of age, and would have more or less unprecedented earning capacity if he maintains anything approaching his current level of production.
To put things in some perspective, in addition to the Stanton deal, consider the Tigers’ extension of Miguel Cabrera. At the time, Cabrera was set to enter his age-31 season after a huge 2013 campaign that capped a sustained run of excellence at the plate. He was already controlled for two years and $44MM, but the club added another eight seasons and $248MM on top of that (along with two vesting options at $30MM a pop). The AAV of the extension is $31MM, the same amount that Steve theorized for Harper.
While there’s no indication that Harper and the Nats are talking, or have plans to do so, it’s interesting to consider what it might take to get something done. It’s conceivable, of course, that the parties could consider a different type of deal — Mike Trout’s six-year, $144.5MM extension provides another model altogether — but a maximum value scenario seems more plausible.
Adding eleven free agent seasons at a $20MM average annual value would push Harper past $250MM. At $24MM annually, the total guarantee would be an even $300MM. Or, if you think that Steve is light, and Harper could take down $35MM a year over his free-agent-eligible campaigns, we’d be staring at a $421MM tab.
Assuming the scenario that Steve proposed — two arb years plus eleven more — what kind of cash do you think would be fair and adequate compensation to get a 13-year deal done? Remember, you can discuss in the comments or join the debate over on Instagram.