Report: Harper Turned Down $300 Million Extension with Nats, Asking Price Expected to Start at $400 Million

You know enough about the Bryce Harper situation by now that you don’t need me to waste time on a preamble that sets up how he’s likely to command the biggest contract in the history of American professional sports. But what might interest you is the latest developments in Harper’s free agency, including the report that the Nationals made an “aggressive offer” in an effort to extend the superstar.

According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, the Nats offered Harper a long-term deal on the last day of the final homestand of the season. They had been discussing options with the superstar and his agent, Scott Boras, throughout September, culminating in an offer that was less than the $400 million some had believe Harper would command.

And though she did not have exact figures at the time, Janes later tweeted that the deal was “roughly $300 million for 10 years” with no opt-outs (a detail she did include in her article).

Harper obviously turned the offer down, though not because it was hastily slapped together or that it was a slap in the face. Both sides considered it very respectful and the total dollar amount was unprecedented. But it was also about $100 million more than Boras figures to set the starting bid, so there would be no reason for Harper to take it right away.

That figure jibes with the $420 million over 14 years projected by MLB Trade Rumors, which amounts to the same average annual value, just over a 40 percent longer stretch. There’s also the matter of the opt-outs, which could serve as additional currency. Should Harper recapture his 2015 MVP over one or more early seasons, he might be able to re-enter the market under new conditions for even more money.

This probably doesn’t have any impact on the opinions of those who want the Cubs to pursue Harper, but it does put things into perspective in terms of what Theo Epstein and Co. see as the best use of (artificially) limited funds.

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