Why 12-Year Bryce Harper Contract Would Be Franchise Suicide for the Nationals
Scott Boras is at it again, and this time it concerns Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Boras has laid out a case for a 12-year contract extension for Harper:
Scott Boras at the yard today. He laid out a not-so-abstract case for the Nats signing Bryce Harper to a 12-year contract.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) August 27, 2013
Boras, asked how two sides could possibly come up with a number that works for a 12-year deal: "It's easy." He's too much.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) August 27, 2013
While locking up a franchise player for the foreseeable future is key, I think it's still too early to do that for Harper. After all, what has he done other than win NL Rookie of the Year?
A 12-year contract would be suicide for the Nationals for many reasons.
Comparisons to Buster Posey
There's no doubt that Harper is a great talent, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to reach the big bucks. Of course, Boras could be looking at Buster Posey's nine-year, $164-million deal as a reference, but Harper is no Posey.
For starters, Posey has led the San Francisco Giants to two World Series titles, along with winning an MVP award (in addition to his NL Rookie of the Year). He batted .317 with 46 home runs and 191 RBI through his first three seasons, which includes a shortened 2010 after a collision at home plate ended his year.
When on the field, Posey simply helps will the Giants to wins.
Harper, on the other hand, is batting .272 with 40 home runs and 105 RBI in his career. Those are not exactly the numbers you want to see when you're about to give a kid a 12-year deal.
Like any big leaguer, Harper has dealt with injuries and slumps this year. But just like with everyone else, it's a part of the game. As an executive, do you give a player a huge contract when he's coming off a year with filled injuries and struggles at the plate?
Not Even Arbitration Eligible
When I see that Harper isn't even arbitration eligible yet, that makes me more hesitant to give him a long-term deal. In fact, he won't be arbitration eligible until 2016.
He's already under a cheap contract that pays him just over $2 million the next two years, so why not stick with that?
If I'm not going to have to pay a guy a lot of money (even in arbitration), why would I want to pay him more money in a long-term contract? Instead, I could wait and pay him $7-8 million in arbitration and then sign him to a long-term deal prior to his last arbitration year. It would save the Nationals money and would allow them to see what they really have on their hands before committing long term.
With Harper being one of the franchise players for the Nationals, they definitely don't want to tick him off. But to pay him more money than they really have to early in his career would be a bad business decision.
Playing the "what if" game can be dangerous, but we've seen huge contract decisions come back to bite many teams in the you know what.
Just look at Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez and Carl Crawford. The list of bad contracts for star players goes on, but these three should suffice.
Howard has been good when he's in the lineup, but that's the problem...he can't stay in the lineup. He keeps getting injured.
Then there's A-Rod, who has a myriad of problems from struggles late last year and in the postseason, and the Biogenesis scandal. It was even reported by ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand that the Yankees were looking at ways to void his contract. It doesn't sound like the Yankees have the same feeling now that they did back when they signed him to his latest contract.
Crawford has struggled with injuries as well, having played in only 123 games the last two seasons. And the year before that (his first in Boston), he batted .255 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI.
In total, Crawford has gotten paid almost $55 million over the last three years and produced a .271 average with 19 home runs and 100 RBI. Talk about bang for your buck.
I'm not saying that Harper will turn into one of those three, but it could happen. And if it does, do you really want to be locked into a 12-year contract with him?
Long-term contracts that pay players big bucks do two things: make agents rich and prevent a team from making necessary moves years down the road.
Outside of Crawford (since he's been traded), imagine if the Yankees and Phillies hadn't signed Rodriguez and Howard to long-term deals. With injuries and poor play, they could have made the necessary moves to improve their teams.
Instead, those two players are getting paid to either watch or play poorly.
Is it too early to give Bryce Harper a long-term extension?
It all seemed good back when those contracts were given out, but like they say, "hindsight is 20-20."
What Does the Future Hold?
In the end, Harper will eventually get a long-term contract for a large amount of dollars. After all, Boras is his agent and he has a way of doing that.
Funny thing is, he's also Stephen Strasburg's agent and will look to do the same thing for the pitcher.
However, the Nationals don't need to rush to pay either extra money. Let both players get through their first year or two of arbitration and then approach a contract extension.
Giving out a contract prior to that is just like handing out free money. Why do it when you don't have to?
Do you agree with me or think I'm full of it? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @chris_stephens6.
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