Since the age of 16, Bryce Harper carried hype wherever he went. After bursting on the national stage with phenomenal, raw talent that scouts had never seen, he decided to skip his senior year of high school just to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team as soon as possible. This reigned true as he was taken first overall in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals where he ran straight through the minor leagues, debuting at the age of 19, rarely done at that young of an age. He won the National League Rookie of the Year and continued his quest of baseball dominance as he improved year after year, culminating in a unanimous MVP win in 2015. Now that Harper has served his six years with the Nats, he is eligible for free agency where he should make history yet again with a contract that will shatter the record books. Whether he stays with the team that drafted him or go to a brand new city and team is what’s keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.
The case for Harper to stay in D.C. is quite strong. It’s difficult to abandon the place where he’s been for his entire major league career. Building strong connections with the community in Washington and all of the fans that root him on through the good and bad. It’s reasonable for Harper to believe that loyalty trumps whatever other suitors can offer, so staying put is definitely on the table. The problem with resigning is that the Nats can’t dish out as much cash as other teams can. Loaded with other large contracts on their payroll, General Manager Mike Rizzo has reportedly offered their homegrown star a 10 year, $300 million dollar contract and owner of the team, Ted Lerner, has come out and stood firm on that deal being the only one they offer. Clearly, this contract wouldn’t break Giancarlo Stanton’s contract record at 10 years, $325 million, so this might leave the Nats behind in the running to sign Harper. Alyssa Bleyle (12) argued that this contract won’t get it done saying, “I feel that Harper’s main goal is to break the record for highest contract, so I doubt this is the contract that seals the deal. Maybe if the Nats can sweeten the deal a little bit, Bryce can be persuaded by the team that drafted him.” Whether Harper will come around and agree to this hometown discount is yet to be seen.
The other option for Harper is to pack up his bags and sign with another team. Clearly this would be a big decision for him to make, so picking the perfect fit is the top priority. Harper’s distinct competitiveness and winning attitude would draw him to the more notable contenders like the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Chicago Cubs. On the other hand, teams on the rise, like the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, can offer much more money for the free agent and may be able to allure him to be a player they build around for the future. The current payrolls of both the Cubs and Dodgers are some of the highest in the league, so if either of them pursue Harper, larger contracts have to be moved, which provides a distinct disadvantage. Considering the Phillies’ have the most room to spend, many baseball analysts have projected Harper to land in Philadelphia since they are able to give the star player a blank check. Nick Hahn (12) agrees with that thought saying, “It makes a lot of sense for Bryce to go to the Phillies as they have the means to spend and he wants that humongous contract. In the end, I think that’s where Harper ends up.” As Harper contemplates the next chapter of his life, leaving the Nats for a team that can back up trucks full of money may be the move.
Throughout winter, Harper and the entire baseball world can’t wait to see the decision he makes as the impact of his signing will be widespread across the league. Just like his entire career so far, all eyes are on Harper.