Questions but no answers: Will Harper ever sign? Does he regret saying no to Nats?

Ben Krimmel
January 25, 2019 - 1:32 pm
Nationals have no plans to offer Bryce Harper a mega-deal like the one Manny Machado signed.

Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper has to sign at some point, right?

There will come a time when Harper will sign a contract to play baseball during the 2019 season. We've been assured of this.

But does anybody understand why it is taking so long? 

"I don't understand the business of baseball anymore," Jason Bishop of The Sports Junkies said Friday.

Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post said even people in baseball circles are having a hard time understanding the situation.

"I don't think people who are in (baseball) understand it, either," Svrluga said on 106.7 The Fan. "I probably would have predicted this would have gone long just knowing how much Scott Boras wants to make history with this deal." 

Svrluga pointed to another Boras client Max Scherzer and his late January signing during the 2015 offseason as evidence for his prediction of a prolonged Harper free agency. But this offseason, like last year, is moving at an even slower pace.

"It's gotten annoying for fans, I think there's fatigue with it," Svrluga said. "We entered an offseason where, you know, it was supposed to be all these fireworks with (Manny) Machado and Harper and now it's just like, 'Jeez, man, can they sign somewhere and we know who's on (each team)?"

"If you're a fantasy player, like, where are these guys gonna play? I'm not into it," Svrluga said. 

The argument from many around baseball is that teams are not interested in signing players to long-term deals for big money. However, while those deals tend to hurt teams for overpaying aging stars, Machado and Harper won't reach their mid-30s until the end of a 10-year deal. 

Mark Lerner: Nats' offer to Bryce Harper 'best we can do'

"When you give (long deals) to an Albert Pujols or a Robinson Cano at age 30 or 31, that's when you're looking at trouble," Svrluga said. "I'm on the Harper side that I don't think it's unreasonable to sign him to a 10-year deal that carries him only to age 36. When the backend of those deals are age 38, 39, 40, that's when you get into trouble."

Svrluga added Harper struggled with the instability of not knowing where he would play in the future.

"I think that Bryce really struggled with that over the course of the season," he said. "I mean (Harper) said this late in the year, you know, 'Am I in their plans?' Talking about the Nationals."

Svrluga took that a step further wondering whether Harper regrets not avoiding free agency altogether. 

"I wouldn't doubt that there's part of him that thinks, I wish last offseason I had gone to Scott (Boras) and said, 'Can we make something work with the Nationals? Can we get out ahead of this thing and see what they would do?'" Svrluga said. "And we know now 10-years and $300 million that's nothing to sniff at. That is a major, major contract that the Nationals offered them. It's hard for me to believe that there aren't moments that Bryce doesn't sit there himself and say, 'Man, I probably should have just taken it.'"

But Harper didn't take it. 

Instead, the Bryce Harper Sweepstakes drags on. 

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