By Bob Nightengale |
The Washington Nationals’ contract offer to All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper was for 10-year, $300 million that he rejected five weeks ago, two persons with direct knowledge of the proposed deal told USA TODAY Sports.
The persons spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deal.
The offer, which would have paid Harper an average of $30 million a year, is no longer is on the table, according to one official. The deal, offered on Sept. 26, expired once they no longer had exclusive negotiating rights last week. Talks can be resumed, of course, but the Nats still are trying to sign at least one starting pitcher and a catcher in free agency and don’t want to be left without anyone filling any of their voids if Harper departs for another team.
The contract proposal to Harper was second in total dollars only to Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million deal that he originally signed with the Miami Marlins. Stanton, now with the New York Yankees, now has $270 million remaining over the next 10 years.
Los Angeles center fielder Mike Trout, considered the finest all-around player in the game, earned a Major League leading $34.083 million last season, but his six-year, $144.5 million extension expires after the 2020 season.
Harper, 26, and infielder Manny Machado, each are pursuing contracts in excess of $300 million this winter. Harper also is expected to be pursued by the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
If the Nats don’t re-sign Harper, who has been with the organization his entire career, they will go with an outfield of Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Victor Robles.
“I’m comfortable with the alternative,’’ Nats GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at his media session Tuesday, “but I’m uncomfortable with the statement that we’re a better team without him.’’