If it seems we’re making only incremental progress in our understanding of the Bryce Harper saga, that may be due to the fact that the bidding is still progressing in a cautious manner. We learned yesterday that the Giants’ interest extended to the ten-year contract range, and there’s more chatter this morning, though it’s fair to wonder whether the recent movement is mostly just setting the stage for a final frenzy.
Harper’s camp seemingly expects to sign a record-breaking contract, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. It remains to be seen both where Harper will land and what record(s) he’ll break, but Nightengale writes that the three primary remaining contenders — the Dodgers, Giants, and Phillies — “have vowed to provide Harper with either the biggest overall free-agent contract in North American sports history or the largest average annual salary anyone has ever received in the sport.” The present record-holders in each of those two measures are Giancarlo Stanton ($325MM total contract) and Zack Greinke ($34.42MM AAV).
Agent Scott Boras is said to be “circling back with other teams” to see if they wish to get involved at the last moment. Presumably, that’ll include a phone call to the Nationals, Harper’s only professional club to date and a frequent match with Boras clients. It’s unknown at this point whether any other organizations will jump into the mix or whether the bidding is down to a final three. Regardless, Nightengale suggests, it seems the final stage of the process is finally upon us.
Here’s a quick breakdown of where the three aforementioned primary contenders stand, based upon reporting to date:
- The Phillies “still have the highest offer on the table,” per Nightengale. As Matt Breen of Philly.com reported yesterday, though the club is increasingly pessimistic of landing the star. The Phils are holding the line for the time being, per Andy Martino of SNY.tv (via Twitter), with Harper looking to move past the Stanton guarantee. Clearly, there’s some tension between this report and Nightengale’s assessment of the organizations’ willingness to set new high-water marks in the financial department.
- The Dodgers are evidently still not willing to go to a decade, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported yesterday on Twitter. They are, however, prepared to “obliterate” Greinke’s AAV record, Nightengale says. It seems the organization believes it’d need to dangle a term of “at least five years,” though that element of the interest is largely unknown. Neither is it known just how high the Dodgers would go in single-season AAV. It’s worth noting that the opt-out(s) included would be of even greater importance under this kind of scenario, though it’s unclear as yet how that could factor in.
- As for the Giants, Nightengale says the club is willing to go past $300MM on a ten-year term to land Harper. That’s unsurprising, as it emerged yesterday that the San Francisco organization was willing to go to that length, but is notable nevertheless. Nightengale cites “panic and desperation about season-ticket sales and fan interest” as driving what is “strictly an ownership pursuit.”