At 23 years old, Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper is becoming the face of Major League Baseball. He's a three-time All-Star in just four seasons in the majors and is the reigning National League MVP after a campaign in which he hit .330 with 42 home runs and 99 RBI.
Although he won't be a free agent until the 2018 season concludes, there is talk that he could become the game's first $400 million player—which would easily surpass Giancarlo Stanton's record $325 million, 13-year contract. On Thursday, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier of 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C., asked him about the possibility of receiving a record-breaking contract in an interview that will air Friday (h/t Chris Lingebach of CBS DC). Harper replied:
Yeah, I mean I don’t really think about that stuff. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win. But don’t sell me short. That’s what you’re doing right now to me, so don’t do that.
I’m looking forward to just playing this year, just looking forward to playing the next couple years. And I think all that stuff will play out.
While he sounded humble in the beginning of the answer, his brazen side came out when hinting that $400 million may not be where his contract tops out. It would be quite a jump from the $5 million he is set to make next year, per Spotrac.com.
Of course, being humble is hard when you are anointed the sport's next big superstar before your senior year of high school. His fiery attitude and talent have carried him far in the game, but he has also rubbed some people the wrong way, including teammate Jonathan Papelbon, who choked Harper in the dugout near the end of last season.
However, the outfielder is young, still learning how to be a professional and putting up numbers the game has rarely seen for someone of his age. He was the youngest player to unanimously win the MVP award, as well as the youngest since 1969 to hit three home runs in a game.
Ace of MLB Stats put his 2015 season into perspective:
300+ times safely on base in season, under age-23— Ace of MLB Stats (@theaceofspaeder) February 12, 2016
2015 Bryce Harper
2013 Mike Trout
1980 Rickey Henderson
1941 Ted Williams
1894 Joe Kelley
He has yet to enter his prime and has 97 home runs and 248 RBI in 510 games while sporting an impressive .289/.384/.517 slash line. Here's a visual of his short career, per Daren Willman of MLB.com:
Bryce Harper is 23 years old and he already has this many hits.... pic.twitter.com/29s2xoJMOL— Daren Willman (@darenw) February 12, 2016
It's debatable whether MLB contracts are getting out of hand, but if the market dictates it, there is little doubt that Harper will be worth at least $400 million when he is a 25-year-old free agent.