WASHINGTON: Washington Nationals player Bryce Harper rejected a 10-year, US$300 million (RM1.25 billion) offer by the Nationals in late September, foregoing one of the richest deals in baseball history to test the free agent market, US media reported.
The Washington Post and USA Today cited unnamed sources in reporting that the offer was made in September, USA Today saying that the offer officially expired last week when the Nationals lost their exclusive negotiating rights with the star right fielder.
Washington’s offer would have been the biggest free agent deal by total money paid in the history of the four major American sports leagues according to the Post – although there has been speculation that agent Scott Boras believes the 26-year-old superstar could command US$400 million (RM1.66 billion) on the free agent market.
While Harper is now free to talk to other teams, he has spent his entire career with the Nationals and could yet remain in Washington.
“He’s a guy that is near and dear to us and we are not closing any doors,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday in discussing Harper, a six-time All-Star and the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player.
Harper had a modest 2017 by his standards. His production at the plate dwindled as his strikeouts rose to 169. He batted .249 but drove in 100 runs for the first time in his career.
He played in a career-high 159 games, and his 34 home runs was the most since his MVP year. He also hit 34 doubles.
Harper has 184 home runs and 521 runs batted in for his career.
Rizzo said he was comfortable that the club has options in the outfield should Harper end up elsewhere, including National League Rookie of the Year candidate Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, and Víctor Robles.
“I’m comfortable with the alternative (to Harper returning),” Rizzo said. “But I’m uncomfortable with the statement that we’re a better team without him.”
The biggest free agent deal in US pro sports history by total value was the 10-year, US$275 million-dollar (RM1.142 billion) contract given to Alex Rodriguez by the New York Yankees in 2007.
Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, US$325-million (RM1.349 billion) deal with the Miami Marlins in 2014 was a contract extension.