Just this week, agent Scott Boras met with the Washington Nationals regarding Bryce Harper and a possible contract extension. It's widely known that Harper will be a free agent after the 2018 season, but the Nationals hope to keep him around for the foreseeable future and would clearly prefer to lock him up before he has a chance to test the open market.
Those talks must have not progressed, however, as the Nats believe that Harper is likely to enter the free agent market once his contract is up after the 2018 season:
The Washington #Nats say they are realistic and firmly believe that Bryce Harper is set to test free agency next winter after casual conversations last month. They still hope to re-sign him, but only after he tests the free agent market— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 15, 2017
This doesn't come as a shock, as the former NL MVP will be only 26 years old when he hits the market and he'll be in line to receive an astronomical amount of money. The starting bid will probably be around $400 million for a seriously long-term deal.
Unsurprisingly, Harper is not interested in signing a club-friendly extension that would keep him off the open market. Instead, he'll be wined and dined and end up making close to half a billion dollars for his troubles.
MLB Rumors: Nationals expecting Bryce Harper to become a free agent next winter https://t.co/fMYmxhz7SE— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) December 15, 2017
Who knows what the Giancarlo Stanton trade will do in terms of the Yankees' ability to sign Harper, who has been linked to them when discussing the free agent class of 2018? Whether it's the Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs or even the Nationals that end up winning the Harper sweepstakes, it's clear that someone is going to have to pay handsomely for the superstar, who is just entering the prime of his career and will warrant a truly mind-boggling price tag.
Does this bit of news mean the Nationals have no chance to keep their franchise player? Absolutely not. But what it does do is make it all the more difficult -- and unlikely -- that he doesn't spend his full career in Washington.