Washington Nationals: The Future of Bryce Harper

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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washington nationals
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Bryce Harper becomes a free agent in two years. How will the Washington Nationals address that this offseason and his arbitration seasons?

The Washington Nationals face a difficult decision soon with their superstar Bryce Harper.

With two years left before the slugger hits free agency, the Nats have to think how he fits into their long-term plans. While that may sound easy—as in he does—the reality is different.

Whether it is with Washington, or on the open market, Harper’s payday will be record setting. If allowed to hit free agency at the tender age of 26, the winning bid could exceed $350 million over 10 years. Given the right environment and a chance to DH, he could be as productive at the end of that deal as the beginning.

Although the Nationals will attempt to keep Harper, if his demands become too much, they need to think of the whole team and the aim of winning the first championship in franchise history.

The situation is not dire. The team and Harper enjoy a healthy relationship. After such a lofty 2015 season, his crash back to earth in 2016 may temper what goes on this offseason. With Scott Boras as the agent, the price extracted to have Harper commit to Washington will be high.

How does this play out over the winter? Will they go for year-to-year contracts until Harper hits the open market? Can they get him to sign a huge deal as they did with Stephen Strasburg?

Here are all the possibilities to watch for as the hot stove league cranks up for the winter of 2017.