Nationals get Bryce Harper under contract for 2018 with reportedly record deal
No, this doesn't push back the outfielder's free agency timeline
Nationals outfielder and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper is back to producing at an exceptionally high level after a somewhat disappointing campaign last year. Harper's still just 24 years of age, and he boasts an excellent career OPS+ of 141. As well, he enters play on Saturday with a 2017 slash line of .372/.496/.717 and 10 home runs in 31 games.
Harper's eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, and he's almost certainly going to shatter the record for the largest contract in baseball history. While that free agency timeline remains unchanged, the Nationals did get a bit of cost certainty on Saturday by announcing that they'd signed Harper to a contract for 2018.
Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, but it's reportedly a big one ...
So that's a guaranteed payday of more than $20 million for an arbitration-eligible player. As Jon Heyman notes, that's a record one-year deal for an arb-eligible player.
From the Nats' standpoint, they get some payroll certainty for 2018, and they perhaps build some goodwill with Harper. There's probably a slim chance that they're able to buy out any of Harper's free agent years, but at least there's a good working relationship in place and a window for exclusive negotiation.
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