In 2010, Bryce Harper was all the rage going into the first year player draft in June. Harper, who earned his GED after his sophomore year of high school, played at the College of Southern Nevada as a 17 year old. His first, and only, season for the College of Southern Nevada was in 2010. In 66 games, he posted .443/.526/.987 (AVG/OBP/SLG) slash line while hitting 31 home runs and driving in 98. Needless to say, the kid was a monster.
He was taken first overall in the 2010 draft by the Nationals and spent two years flourishing in their minor league system. After he was drafted, he held out for the most money possible out of Mike Rizzo, the Nationals GM. He eventually settled for a 5 year, $9.9 million deal, with a $6.25 signing bonus. The deal was a major league deal, and that is very rare to see for any draft pick.
When Harper was called up to the bigs in 2012, he was the face of a game that was changing, a younger, more cocky per-say, era in the Major Leagues. Bryce Harper had that attitude and it led him to the NL Rookie of the Year award. In his 2012 campaign, he had a slash line of .270/.340/.477 and hit 22 home runs and drove in 59. Wait, he won rookie of the year with those numbers? My thoughts exactly. Harper also posted a 20.1% strikeout rate. But he was only 19, so that can slide. He also finished with an over 5 WAR.
In 2013, people were expecting Harper to turn into an absolute monster. Predictions of Harper hitting over .300 with possibly an OPS of .950. Those numbers didn’t exactly pan out. Harper only played in 118 games in 2013, posting a slash line of .274/.368/.486 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI’s. His WAR fell to under 4 as well.
Now to the main argument of this piece, is Bryce Harper worth a 12 year, over $300 million deal that his agent, Scott Boras, mentioned? Is he even worth $200 million? Harper is entering the 4th year of his original contract. After 2015, he will become Arbitration eligible for the next three years. Basically, the earliest he will become a free agent is the 2019 off-season.
In my opinion, I’m not giving him that deal. Granted he is only 21, which is crazy to think, but his career batting average is only .272. His WAR is a combined 9 through his first two seasons. To put that in perspective, Mike Trout put up a 9.2 WAR in 2013 alone. Also with Harper, you have to look at the way he plays the game. He is a hard nosed, taking the extra base, run through the wall type of outfielder. Is that the type of player you are going to take a $200 million, let alone $300 million risk on? I’m not.
Bryce Harper is an amazing talent, and yes, he is fantastic for the game of baseball. But, when it comes to the discussion of giving him a monster deal, that should scare the Nationals a bit. I feel like for Harper, Washington should give him a three year deal, buying out his arbitration years, and renegotiate once 2019 becomes closer. Scott Boras should also scare the Nationals. He can manipulate Harper into waiting the whole process until he gets that massive deal.
If I am Mike Rizzo and the Nationals, I would try to keep Bryce Harper in Washington. He’s one of the faces of the franchise and puts fans in the seats. But, I would be very hesitant to sign Harper to a massive deal. Maybe he turns the corner in the next two years and becomes better than Mike Trout, who knows. For right now, however, the Nationals should be weary about throwing a big deal at Bryce Harper.