CARLSBAD, Calif. | Top agent Boras calls rebuilding teams competitive cancer

CARLSBAD, Calif. | Top agent Boras calls rebuilding teams \competitive cancer\

Early Rumors On The Bryce Harper Market

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harpers free agency took center stage at the annual General Managers Meetings this week, kicking off what is sure to be one of the most high-profile and highly anticipated free agencies in recent memory.

“Certainly, Harpers bazaar has begun,” his agent, Scott Boras, said to a herd of reporters in Carlsbad, Calif., on Tuesday. “Its fashionable. Its historical. Its elite. Global, certainly. And certainly, it has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair.”

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harpers free agency took center stage at the annual General Managers Meetings this week, kicking off what is sure to be one of the most high-profile and highly anticipated free agencies in recent memory.

According to The Washington Post, Bryce Harper turned down an “aggressive” offer on the final day of the season from the Washington Nationals. The deal would have reportedly included no opt-outs and was less than the $400 million it was speculated Harper could receive, according to the Post.” Harper has indeed been asking for the reported $400 million, and there is cautious pessimism within the industry as to if Harper will be able to receive said value. Harper and his agent Scott Boras had been negotiating with the Nationals at the end of September, but were never able to come to terms on a deal.

Video: Why Bryce Harper was smart to reject Nationals $300 million offer

“Certainly, Harpers bazaar has begun,” his agent, Scott Boras, said to a herd of reporters in Carlsbad, Calif., on Tuesday. “Its fashionable. Its historical. Its elite. Global, certainly. And certainly, it has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair.”

Former first-round pick Ike Davis announced his retirement on Tuesday. Davis was a Met from 2010-2014, and saw some success in orange and blue at first base. From 2010-2012, Davis hit .242/.323/.478 with 39 home runs in 733 at-bats. Davis tried his hand at relieving in the minors, but ultimately gave up on that dream and has elected retirement.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Washington Post reported Harper and his camp turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract from the Nationals with no opt-outs on the last day of the regular season. That would have been the largest free-agent contract in MLB history.

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While that contract would be the largest for a free agent, it would not surpass Giancarlo Stantons record-breaking 13-year, $325 million deal from 2014, nor would it surpass Zack Greinkes $34.42 million for the highest average annual value. Harper has confirmed he is seeking a long-term deal, but accepting a contract with no opt-outs would lock Harper up for the entirety of his prime without giving him the chance to earn more money should player contract values continue to rise with increasing revenues throughout the sport.

"We've had conversations and we utilized our exclusivity to negotiate with him late in the season through when he became eligible to sign with a team,'' Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporter Tuesday, according to ESPN. "We didn't get anything done, but he's a guy that is near and dear to us and we are not closing any doors.''

If Harper and his camp are seeking a record-breaking deal of as much as $400 million, getting such a lucrative offer from Washington before any other bidders were allowed to enter the picture must be encouraging. Now, they are expecting teams such as the Cardinals, Giants, Phillies and White Sox to get involved, although Boras would not rule out the Cubs and Yankees, who have reportedly denied interest.

Boras once again described Harper, who just turned 26 last month, as a generational player on Tuesday, combining elite performance and accomplishments with his young age and the potential to be the face of a franchise. As Boras sees it, players who have accomplished as much as Harper at this age have an inside track toward the Hall of Fame.

Those factors made Harper always a near certainty to reach free agency, especially considering Boras history with his high-profile clients. To get so close to testing the open market and then sign an extension would have represented a drastic change in direction. The Nationals know all of these factors, which made Harper always unlikely to accept such an offer.

But they made it anyway, a last-ditch effort while they held his exclusive negotiating rights. Perhaps the proposed deal was merely to establish a starting point for negotiations, or maybe it was simply a good-faith offer made before Washington turns its efforts elsewhere. Either way, that offer is currently off the table, and general manager Mike Rizzo said the club will not wait all offseason for Harper to sign.

“We have to factor in everything,” Klentak said. “Im being vague because I dont want to address that particular player, as you can tell. But its something that we will incorporate into our decision-making process, whether its a superstar player or a complementary player or whether its extending an internal player, whether its a Minor League free agent, whether its hiring a staff member. We really do a thorough assessment of the individual. Were going to evaluate that, and the decision might be to not sign that person. But it really comes down to the balance of all the factors. Its not that complicated.”

However, Rizzo said he was open to more negotiations with Harper in the future, and Harpers camp feels the same.

“I think Bryce is open to a lot of opportunities,” Boras said. “Hes listened to a lot of things. … As we go through this, I think hes going to hear everything from everyone and hell certainly make an informed decision as to whats most important to him.”

“When we are evaluating players, we do our best to evaluate the total player, everything that player brings to the table,” Klentak said. “Offense, defense, baserunning, their makeup and work ethic, their age, their health histories and a couple other things. We factor in all of those characteristics into how we evaluate the player. We make roster and contract decisions accordingly.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

The headlines started popping up as early as 2015, bold proclamations already describing this winters crop of free agents as the best in baseball history.


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