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Harper’s Bazaar: What Will Market Bear For Nationals’ Superstar?

We find the following financial news utterly hilarious. So we thought we’d share it with you and see what you think, because that’s how we roll at Tiebreaker.com.

Bryce Harper turned down 10 years and $300 million to stay with the Washington Nationals.

Laugh track.

Bryce Harper

Rob Carr / Getty

You know, professional athletes drive us nuts sometimes. They have this inflated sense of worth, much like actors, musicians, CEOs and media moguls. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Of course, the idea is take every penny someone is willing to give it you, even if it’s more money you and the next five generations of family (and friends) will ever be able spend.

Seriously, don’t you think $300 million should have been sufficient enough to make Harper happy?

“We certainly have made attempts to sign him,” said Nats’ general manager Mike Rizzo from the GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. “He’s our guy. We’re looking forward to seeing what can transpire.”

The Washington Post reported the offer was actually made on the last day of the regular season.

“I can’t really stand here and say it’s going to be ‘farewell’ or anything like that, because nobody knows. Nobody knows what this offseason holds,” Harper told reporters that day.

If Harper had accepted it, he would have denied himself the joy of being wined and dined on his self-promotional tour of the nation.

We can’t blame him. Who in their right mind would turn down shrimp cocktail, a Cowboy ribeye (bone-in) and a bottle of 2002 Screaming Eagle Cabernet – if you have to ask how expensive it is, your probably can’t afford it.

This seems to be the problem here: During the season, citing the annual escalation of salaries, baseball writers and columnists began to speculate Harper and/or Manny Machado might become the game’s first $400 million players.

Afterall, Mike Trout made $33.25 million last season with the Los Angeles Angels. Giancarlo Stanton’s deal with the Marlins/Yankees averages $32.5 million over 10 years. And you can’t expect the market to sit still. So there is little doubt Harper – and Machado – have $400 million in mind.

Last offseason, MLB owners became more penurious with Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 deal with San Diego the biggest headline. What did they buy? Hosmer’s numbers regressed significantly from his last season in Kansas City. With the Padres, he hit .253 with 16 homers, 69 RBIs and 142 strikeouts.

Will anyone give Harper or Machado $400 million? Will they even get $300 million? Of course, it depends on the depth of the buyer’s pockets. So Harper reckoned he might as well wait for someone stupid enough to give it to him.

The negotiation of Harper’s contract promises to be fascinating since the car – perhaps a 2019 Cadillac Escalade 4WD, 4DR Platinum (retail $100,295) – is being driven by the one and only Scott Boras.

According to Forbes Magazine, Boras represents 67 baseball players whose contracts are worth $1.9 billion. Forbes estimates Boras’ commissions in 2018 to be $105.2 million.

This is the barrel of the bazooka ownership interested in Harper will be staring into. Boras’ reputation is characterized by his inclination to squeeze every $100 bill out for his clients.

You can’t blame the Nats for trying as hard as they can to keep Harper. He is a fan favorite, only 26 and obviously skilled. And there may be more pressure to sign him because of how the team has underperformed over the last few seasons. The equity they have built up with their fanbase is slowly seeping out.

Washington’s payroll last season was $180 million with Harper ($21.725,000) and Max Scherzer ($22,242,857) eating up a fair share. Both Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are also Boras clients.

It’s too early to tell how high up the Nats are willing to go. Remember, the Red Sox won the World Series with an MLB-leading $223 million payroll.

If they decide not to sign Harper, they conceivably would start next season with an outfield of Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Victor Robles, another of the game’s promising young stars.

But the Nats really want Harper.

“I’m comfortable with the alternative, but I’m uncomfortable with the statement that we’re a better team without [Harper],” Rizzo said.

“We haven’t gotten anything done, but he’s a guy that’s near and dear to us. We’re not closing any doors.”

Harper is a six-time All-Star with 184 homers, 521 RBIs and a .900 OPS. But he hit .249 with 34 homers, 100 RBIs and 169 strikeouts last season.

“It’s going to be a challenge to put the best product on the field, and that could include Harper and it could be doing things without Harper,” Rizzo said. “There is a reality that we would love to sign him, but we may not. We have to have a strategy and plan put together to win baseball games, not only for 2019 but beyond. I think we have a good strategy in place, a good plan in place, and we have started to begin that process and we will see where it takes us.”

 

 

 

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