Washington Nationals: 5 potential 2018 x-factors

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Bryce Harper

Since he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16, the spotlight has been on Bryce Harper. However, the lights will shine even brighter in 2018.

Now 25, Harper is about nine months from embarking on the most anticipated free agency case of all-time. The superstar will presumably receive a contract worth $400-500 million, which would shatter the record for most lucrative contract ever.

Before Harper possibly becomes a free agent, he has one more season under contract with the Nats. Because of what is looming with Harper, 2018 is a fateful season for him as well.

Contract seasons are tricky, because players tend to either have a career year or choke under the pressure. Harper has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, so, assuming he remains healthy, there is little concern about him choking.

Harper having a career year is a much more likely scenario. He produced a historic season as a 22-year-old in 2015, yet he may be even better in 2018.

According to his workout partner, Joey Gallo, Harper is as focused as he has ever been. If all of his off-season preparation leads to in-season results, he may strengthen his free agency case even more.

Harper is a generational talent, and has the potential to put the Nats on his back. If he is able to remain healthy in 2018, he could play a big role in bringing a parade to South Capitol Street.