The 2019 MLB free agency class has long been looked at one of the more anticipated, with Bryce Harper among the headliners. For years, it appeared as though Clayton Kershaw would be part of it, though he agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As the offseason gets into full swing, Harper and Manny Machado are considered the top talents available on the open market. With each 26 years old, they are both expected to sign two of the most lucrative contracts in MLB history.
Harper has expressed a desire to remain with the Washington Nationals but they could face a challenge if other clubs are motivated to spend lavishly.
According to Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post, the Nationals made an initial effort to sign Harper to a new contract prior to the regular season concluding:
First, the Nationals — often described as somewhere between maddeningly selective in their spending and unnecessarily frugal — were willing to give one of their players a record-setting deal. They offered Harper $300 million for 10 years in a deal that included no opt-outs, according to multiple people familiar with the terms.
While the $400 million figure has been bandied about, it still is difficult to envision Harper, or any player for that matter, signing such an exorbitant deal. A $300 million deal would be more than the $275 million Alex Rodriguez secured in free agency and less than the $325 million extension Giancarlo Stanton signed.
However it unfolds, a poll of MLB executives believe Machado will sign the more lucrative contract of the two.
The Los Angeles Dodgers claimed Harper off revocable waivers in August but the Nationals pulled him back rather than pursue a potential trade. It’s unclear if the Dodgers are interested in becoming involved in the Harper sweepstakes during free agency.