Although Bryce Harper won’t become a free agent until the end of the 2018 season, I can remember conversations dating back to when he first signed with the Nationals speculating about where he’d eventually end up. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they think he’ll end up with the New York Yankees because they’re willing to spend massive amounts of money on free agents.
This was the most evident after his MVP season in 2015, but seemed to slide back a little bit after he fell back to earth a little bit last year. After having a great start to the season this year, however, this speculation has returned to a feverpitch.
Of course this was also fueled by the fact that he signed a one year deal worth $21.625 million for the 2018 season. This covers his last year of arbitration and is a record setting amount for a one year deal for arbitration eligible players.
This lead some writers to ask around to see what league officials think Harper is worth on the open market. The general consensus is that he’s going to be pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars.
“He is going to get paid. Like, paid paid,” one American League GM said according to ESPN’s Eddie Matz. He added that “Four hundred million is light. It’s going to be more than that. If you could sign him to a 15-year contract, you do it. I would say something in the range of $35 million a year, maybe closer to the high 30s. It could approach 40 million dollars a year.”
If that seems like an outrageous amount of money, it’s because it is. If you stop and think about it, that’s significantly higher than when people start going absolutely crazy about the lottery — and those are paid out over 20 years if you want the full amount. But it’s not the highest amount that people have speculated Harper would get.
Joe Pasnanski over at NBC Sports wrote an article about how Harper could be the first player in history to have a $500 million contract. He might have started off the article by claiming he wanted to laugh it off when a friend mentioned the amount to him, but he then went on to explain why various factors (Harper’s age, his agent — Scott Boras, etc) would lead to the contract actually happening.
While I agree with the American League GM who said Harper’s going to get “like paid paid,” I don’t think the contract will be quite make it to the $500 million mark.
As it stands right now, the largest per season contract in MLB goes to Zack Greinke who gets paid $34,416,667. His contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks is only for six years though. When you’re talking about biggest overall contract, however, it goes to Giancarlo Stanton who signed a 13 year deal with the Miami Marlins. With an annual salary of $25 million, the total contract is worth $325 million.
I believe Harper will end up essentially combining the two contracts and getting $35 million a year over the course of 13 years. That will put the value of his total contract at $455 million per year.
The question becomes: which team will be willing to shell out that much money to have him in their lineup?