It’s good to be Bryce Harper.
In a feature published by ESPN, Harper discussed a range of issues, including the free agency process.
— ESPN (@espn) March 11, 2019
“During the seven years I spent in DC, all everybody talked about was me going somewhere else,” Harper told ESPN’s Tim Keown in an interview published in ESPN: The Magazine. “From the day I signed, it was: ‘He’s going to the Yankees’; ‘He’s going to the Dodgers’; ‘He’s going to the Cubs.’ I didn’t want to hear that. I was in that city, and I wanted to be in that city. So now I’m just so happy that I’m able to sit here right now and say I can play until I’m 39 years old and I don’t have someone sitting around the corner saying, ‘He’s going to go here next.'”
The six-time all-star and former NL MVP spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Washington Nationals after being selected by the Nats with the 1st overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
Harper spoke fondly of his time in DC.
“I grew up in front of those fans and that city, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Harper told ESPN’s Keown. “But I didn’t know if I fit into their plans.”
Harper was offered a 10-year, $300 million deal the Nats in October. It was a higher salary per year than what he wound up taking from the Phillies, but shorter in duration.
There was one other difference, too — and it seemed to be a dealbreaker.
“About $100 million of that contract was deferred ’til I was 65 years old,” Harper told ESPN about the Nats offer. “It’s like, ‘What does that do for me? What does that do for my family?'”
— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) March 11, 2019
Keown said it best in the article writing — “Few people can turn down a $100 million retirement fund; Bryce is one.”
It turned out well for Harper, obviously, as he got a bigger deal with the Nats. But $300 million, including $100 million put aside for retirement, can do a lot for a family as well as future generations.
Harper told Keown that he held meetings with six teams. By late February, only three were in the running — the Phillies, Dodgers and Giants.
“The longer it lasted, the more his story seeped outside sports. Can you believe a ballplayer turned down $300 million? The saga reached Peak Bryce on Feb. 26, when the Twitter feed of the band Smash Mouth made headlines with an unhinged, unsubstantiated screed about a fracture within the Giants’ front office. Ownership was all-in, Smash Mouth said, but new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wasn’t. Amazingly, insiders with direct knowledge say the tweet caused Zaidi to refute Smash Mouth — half-jokingly — during the team’s final face-to-face meeting with Harper,” Keown wrote.
Said Harper: “It was fun to go through the meetings and feel wanted, but it was something I’ll happily never go through again.”
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