Washington’s Bryce Harper is due for historic contract
THE SANTA CLARA
January 26, 2017
Last week, outfielder Bryce Harper avoided arbitration with the Washington Nationals and agreed to a one-year deal worth $13.5 million for the upcoming season—an $8.5 million raise from last year.
The new deal seems like a substantial raise, but it will come nowhere near what Harper stands to make down the line. The young outfielder will likely sign the largest contract in American professional sports history.
According to “Sports Illustrated,” Harper has briefly mentioned the terms that he’ll seek in his next contract with the Nationals—the length in the 10-year range and value exceeding $400 million.
The numbers may seem ludicrous at first, but an AL West area scout I discussed the deal with said that 10 years and $350 million will be the absolute minimum Harper will get. Even then, the deal would ultimately be worth more through the inevitable opt-out clauses included in the contract.
The astronomical contract would be unlike anything American professional sports has seen. Yet, with a changing salary cap landscape across major professional sports, a 10-year contract paying $40 million a year is actually a worthy gamble with Harper.
The biggest asset Harper has in contract negotiations is his age. Harper will be 26 when he’s a free agent, so a 10-year contract would lock him up for the majority of his prime.
And Harper has already shown more than just glimpses of the transcendent stardom that he brought with him when he entered the league at 19.
Harper won Rookie of the Year and was the MVP at 22. He’s a four time All-Star and has more than 120 home runs in his young career. Despite questions about his maturity and a performance dip at the end of last season, the team who coughs up the king’s ransom to secure his services is making a good investment.
Harper’s an established superstar with many years left of his prime who has the potential to go down as one of the best of all-time.
To put his upcoming contract in perspective, 27-year-old outfielder Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins—who has had injury problems in his career and is not as well-rounded of a player as Harper —recently signed a 13-year deal worth $325 million dollars. The contract will expire when Stanton is 40 years old; Harper would be 36 at the end of his 10-year contract.
Professional sports franchises are spending more money than ever and the trend seems likely to increase. If you’re a big market team like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox and want to return to the glory of years past, it is time to open the checkbook for a future Hall of Famer. He’s worth the gamble.
Contact Ben Epstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.