- Bryce Harper’s next contract and future will be a significant storyline this MLB season.
- Some front-office executives believe Harper’s next contract could surpass $400 million, or at least exceed Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million contract.
- Front-office executives polled by ESPN currently place the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies as the favorites to land Harper.
The MLB season kicks off on Thursday, and one of the biggest storylines of the year will be Bryce Harper’s future.
The 25-year-old right-fielder is in the final year of a two-year, $35 million deal with the Washington Nationals and is set to hit free agency at the end of the year.
There should be no shortage of bidders, and some believe it could drive up the price to levels MLB has never seen.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, six front-office executives believe Harper could command a $400 million contract this offseason, a league record. In recent months, there has been buzz that Harper’s deal could approach $400 million.
According to Crasnick, some believe that at the very least, he’ll surpass the $325 million contract Giancarlo Stanton signed in 2015, the current record.
Crasnick also polled executives on the favorite teams to land Harper, with the Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies leading the way. Crasnick noted that the pro-Nationals sentiment might be a sign that the Nationals won’t easily let their franchise star walk away from the team.
Interestingly, few of the surveyed executives believed the New York Yankees are the favorites to land Harper. In recent years, many expected the Yankees to lure Harper with their open wallets and large market. But the emergence of Aaron Judge and the offseason trade for Stanton may have changed some thinking around MLB.
In 2017, Harper struggled with injuries and posted good numbers albeit perhaps a little below his expected production. He batted .319 with an On-Base Percentage of .413 and a 1.008 OPS (On-Base plus Slugging) and hit 29 home runs with 87 RBIs.
His performance will be more scrutinized this year as the Nationals hope to get over the hump finally, and as he prepares for a potentially historic payday. If Harper’s numbers don’t get close to his 2015 season, when he won MVP, perhaps some doubt may creep in about what he’s truly worth.