On Sunday morning, reports began to surface that the Los Angeles Angels entered discussions with outfielder Mike Trout on a contract extension worth $152 million over six years. In D.C, there’s another young outfielder who will soon be needing a new deal. How will Trout’s deal impact Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals?
Harper still has two years left on his contract, so this conversation is still at least a season away. It won’t be until 2016 that he becomes arbitration-eligible, and he won’t become a free agent until three years later. He’s a Nationals player now and will be for several more years.
If he continues to develop the way he has been, you can expect a monumental contract for him. In 100 fewer plate appearances in 2013 than in 2012, he hit just two less homers (20) and one less RBI (58). His average (.274), on-base percentage (.368) and slugging percentage (.486) all went up.
Last season, Harper’s agent, Scott Boras threw out the idea of a 12-year deal to reporters. The Washington Post then took that and stated that a net-$300-360 million contract would be something to be expected. That sounds crazy, right? It’d be roughly twice the length of Trout’s rumored deal and and twice the price.
The fact that Trout is currently negotiating a deal that would be roughly half of the dreamed amount for Boras and Harper should be somewhat concerning for Mike Rizzo. When it comes time a year or two from now to talk dollars with his own star outfielder, the initial asking price will be high.
You can say what you will about Trout being a better player than Harper, and the numbers don’t lie, but will that really matter? Harper boasts the world’s greatest agent in Boras. He has a knack for maximizing his players’ contracts. His people get paid and they get paid well, period.
For Rizzo and the Nationals, the longstanding relationship that they have with Boras certainly plays into their favor. It’s not impossible that they’ll get a deal somewhat friendly to them. That is to say, it would be a cheaper contract for Washington than any other team. Regardless of whether the Nationals get a discount, the price tag will be high.
Before the two sides go to the drawing board and begin serious talks of a new deal, Trout has already made Harper a little more expensive. However, if Harper continues to develop like he has, that new contract could be worth it. At any rate, it’s going to be a big contract and Harper is in for a quite a payday down the road.