Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper’s future is his business


Until a final decision is made, there is no use worrying about whether Bryce Harper stays with the Washington Nationals. You never know, he might stay.

Bryce Harper is still a Washington Nationals player until he chooses not to be.

Whether that choice comes at the end of this season or in 15 years makes no difference. To endlessly parse every uttering on social media where he will play in 2019 is fruitless. You have as much information on that as you do the price of Apple stock in April 2019. Pure speculation.

We know Harper has a contract next year for $21.62 million. The Nats, his agent Scott Boras and Harper hammered out a deal quietly this season to get his last year of arbitration done. No acrimony this winter, no chance of a hearing and a fractured relationship.

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No selfie with good friend Kris Bryant changes that. For the next 15 months, Harper’s contract has Washington in the title.

That guarantees nothing in the future.

At 26, Harper faces a free agency market after the 2018 season full of future Hall of Fame members. Manny Machado hits the market. Clayton Kershaw can opt-out of his deal. Daniel Murphy could move on.

As Harper enters the prime years of his career, he will grab the largest paycheck Major League Baseball has ever seen. He will be the first $40 million per season player. Never has such a talented player hit the market so young. Although you can make a good argument Mike Trout is a better player, he is locked into his deal with the Los Angeles Angels a few more years.

Baseball players are businessmen. Everyone in the sports and entertainment industry must be. To expect Harper to leave millions on the table to stay in Washington is silly. Would you? But, as Harper thinks about where to spend the gravy years of his career, this does not mean he is leaving.

The Nats spent the money this year to push for a championship. The Lerner family took on enough payroll to put Washington over the competitive balance tax. If repeating the division title and a first-round exit was the goal, why put an extra pinch in the pocket? The team has the division wrapped.

Harper was married in the offseason. Priorities change as you start a family. Sure, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles carries a glamour Washington does not get credit for. But, the decision is no longer his alone.

You get the sense when the decision comes, it will be carefully crafted and well-reasoned. Harper is intelligent. Wherever he goes, he will continue to impress.

In the back of his mind, you wonder if he understands what he means to this region. Without a megastar since Walter Johnson, a Harper extension would mean so much for the city, the Nats and his own future. The Lerner’s will make a fair offer when the time comes. Although the dollars may not be as high as elsewhere, the return on their investment beats anyplace else.

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For is to worry about it now serves no purpose.