The Nationals, a team widely considered an afterthought in the race for Bryce Harper, reportedly tried to keep him in September for an estimated $300 million over 10 years.
Per the Washington Post, the Nats made the offer prior to their final home game of 2018. It did not include any opt-outs.
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It makes sense for the Nationals' front office to leak information like this because it shows it is/was committed to keeping Harper. That's a huge offer, $300 million, even though it's far below what agent Scott Boras is expected to ask for and what Harper is expected to get. Some believe the price for Harper could reach $400 million, which would shatter the records for total money and annual average value among non-pitchers. Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million contract holds the current record for total value. And as Chelsea Janes points out, Alex Rodriguez and Yoenis Cespedes hold the record for highest AAV obtained by a free-agent position player.
It made sense for Harper to reject the Nats' offer and instead head to free agency, where the same offer will almost certainly materialize but the chance for a bidding war is a near lock. Even though teams like the Yankees and Cubs may not seriously pursue Harper for the projected price tag, the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants are at least four clubs who could make an even more aggressive offer than the Nationals.
If anything, the news of Washington's offer makes it even less likely now than before that Harper stays put. The details sure make it seem like the Nats wanted to be able to say to their fan base: "Look, we tried."
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