The top target on the free agent market turned down what would have been one of the most lucrative deals in MLB history.
Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper was offered a 10-year, $300 million contract by the club towards the end of the 2018 season, according to ESPN. Harper rejected the deal, electing instead to test the market as a free agent.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo discussed the offer with reporters on Tuesday.
“We’ve had conversations and we utilized our exclusivity to negotiate with him late in the season through when he became eligible to sign with a team,” Rizzo said. “We didn’t get anything done, but he’s a guy that is near and dear to us and we are not closing any doors.”
The total worth of Harper’s next contract will largely be determined by its length, but the six-time All-Star is expected to ink a deal worth at least $31 million per year, according to Spotrac. Harper posted a slash line of .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs in 2018, and has a .900 career OPS with 184 homers. The San Francisco Giants are among a handful of teams reportedly targeting Harper this offseason.
“It’s going to be a challenge to put the best product on the field, and that could include Harper and it could be doing things without Harper,” Rizzo said. “There is a reality that we would love to sign him, but we may not. We have to have a strategy and plan put together to win baseball games, not only for 2019 but beyond. I think we have a good strategy in place, a good plan in place, and we have started to begin that process and we will see where it takes us.”