Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is expected to become the highest paid player in MLB history. He becomes a free agent after the 2018 season, but speculation of a $500 million contact is already being discussed in baseball circles. If the 23 year old slugger signs anything close to that, it’d be the largest contract ever.
The big question-is he worth it?
His numbers weren’t overly impressive in his first three seasons. The number of games he played also saw a decline. As a rookie in 2012, Harper hit .270 with 22 home runs in 139 games. The next season, in just 118 games, he hit .274 with 20 homers. His third year, he only played in 100 games, hitting 13 home runs and batting .273.
But then came 2015, a break out season for Harper. He hit .330, slugged 42 home runs in 153 games. This season, his bat has stayed hot.
More than just his play on the field, Harper has become a star off the field. His desire to break baseball’s bad habits and, in his words, “make baseball fun again” has angered some old time ball players and inspired a younger generation. Any team that is willing to break the bank on Harper isn’t just getting a ball player. They’d be getting the most interesting player in baseball.
The largest contract in MLB history was signed in 2014, when the Miami Marlins locked up Giancarlo Stanton, 26, to a 13 year/$325 million deal. Alex Rodriguez has the second and third largest contracts in history. In 2001, the Texas Rangers signed him to a 10 year/$252 million deal. In 2007, Rodriguez, now a Yankee, opted out of his deal and signed a new 10 year deal worth $275 million.
The jury is still out on Stanton, but with all of the money spent on A-Rod, he has just one World Series title to his name. That could potentially scare teams off. Just a couple of years ago, the St Louis Cardinals decided they didn’t want to pay Albert Pujols a massive contract and build the team organically. They’re coming off another division title while the Los Angeles Angels, the team Pujols went to, haven’t gotten past the first round of the playoffs.
Harper seems to have it all. He’s young, he’s one of the top offensive players in the league, and is compelling off the field. Will a team throw 500 million dollars at him?