It is no secret that Bryce Harper's next contract could very well be the largest contract in baseball history.
The 2015 N.L. MVP has reprotedly been looking for something in the realm of 10 years, $400 million.
The Nationals would love to keep the cornerstone of their franchise, but with Harper garnering such a monumental price tag, the team may have no other choice but to move on when his contract expires in 2018.
With the MLB winter meetings taking place at the National Harbor in Oxen Hill, Md. this week, talks of Harper's contract situation have arisen again, and according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the news might not be good for Nationals fans.
The Washington Nationals, balking at Bryce Harper’s demands in early talks about a long-term contract extension, now are preparing themselves to be without their All-Star outfielder after 2018, a high-ranking Nationals executive told USA TODAY Sports.
The executive spoke to USA TODAY Sports on Monday only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
Agent Scott Boras says the only active negotiations of late have involved a one-year deal in 2017. Harper, who made $5 million last season, is eligible for salary arbitration.
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Harper is one of Major League Baseball's top stars but with the Nationals already investing $84.7 million in 2019 salaries to Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman, the money just might not be there for the Nationals to spend.
The Nationals, who had begun preliminary negotiations this year to retain Harper beyond 2018, believe the chasm in their talks now have become too great to overcome. While no specific dollar amount has been broached by high-powered agent Scott Boras, the executive says Harper is seeking a deal more than 10 years in length, believing it would exceed $400 million.
The Nationals' reported mood toward moving on from Harper after 2018 could explain why the Nationals are aggressively pursuing former N.L. MVP Andrew McCutchen and former A.L. Cy Young award winner Chris Sale.
In the grand scheme, not much has changed. Harper was always expected to command the largest cotnract on the market. But the latest news shines a light on the possible direction of the Nationals' front office.
2018 is still a long ways away, but this could be an early sign of things to come, one Nationals fans have been hoping they would never have to see.