GM Mike Rizzo says the Nationals have considered an extension for Bryce Harper, but there have been no formal talks, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, says he and the Nationals (with whom he has a strong relationship) have had informal discussions about the possibility of a Harper extension.
“My attitude is that you certainly want to know what they have to say,” Boras says. “Then, you talk about what they want to do. Historically, these type of players, it’s very difficult because often there are not player comparables that drive this contract.”
It would, of course, be a monumental development if the Nationals were to extend Harper at this stage. He is only three years from becoming a free agent at the tender age of 26, and if he stays healthy and continues to play at anything close to the elite level at which he performed last year, his next contract will likely become the largest the sport has ever seen.
When a reporter recently mentioned to Harper the possibility he might eventually receive a $400MM contract, Harper said, “Don’t sell me short,” implying that he might be able to get even more. It was, perhaps, a brash response, but it likely was not an inaccurate one. Boras, for his part, seems to be thinking of Harper’s next deal in much broader terms than are typically discussed for individual contracts.
“Player comparables are certainly evidence of the past market. But the true evidence of the current market, economic value of franchises, and the revenues of this game are going to be different three years from now,” he says. “It’s not the amount, but whether it’s good business or not. … There may be incentives that excite [the Nationals]. You look at A-Rod when he signed with the Texas Rangers, and what it did for the club’s TV deal. When he was traded to the Yankees, you saw what it did for the YES Network.”
It’s well known that Boras likes his clients to test the waters of free agency, and given the likelihood that Harper could break records, it seems unlikely that the Nationals will make an offer significant enough to prevent him from hitting the market. There have been previous indications that the Nats aren’t even making a Harper extension a top priority, at least not right now. Both sides, however, appear to be leaving the door open a bit, and if formal discussions do eventually take place, they could go to some very interesting places, since it’s hard to know what a Harper deal ought to look like, either in terms of dollars or duration.