Does anyone have a readily available heat source so I can melt this Washington Post story about Bryce Harper turning down two ridiculous Nationals offers into liquid and inject it squarely into my Carotid? A away. That’s it, right? Because I want this to run through my body and course through my veins before ultimately making its way back to its rightful home, my heart.
Just an excellent account of the series of offers from wanting National League teams that led to Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies on the strength of the ballclub, city and John Middleton’s intensity.
The Nationals made their first extension offer to Harper on the last day of the season last year, during a rain delay.
Plug. It. In.
As Harper sat at his locker, Alan Gottlieb, the chief operating officer of Lerner Enterprises and a longtime confidante of the Lerner family, walked through the clubhouse and asked Harper to come to Manager Dave Martinez’s office. When Harper walked through the door, Martinez wasn’t there. Instead, he was faced with the organization’s most important figures: Ted Lerner and his son Mark, who earlier in the summer had taken official control of the club from his then-92-year-old father.
Harper was still in his uniform. The game hadn’t yet been called, but he was about to have a business meeting. At that time, the Nationals were the only team that could offer him a contract. The Lerners said they loved Harper, that they wanted him to be part of their future. They handed him an envelope. Harper was stunned.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” someone asked him.
Harper said no, not yet. There might be more baseball still to play. They shook hands, thanks all around.
When he got back to his locker, Harper texted Kayla: You’re not going to believe this, but they just made me an offer in the middle of this game. When the rain wouldn’t relent and the final innings were canceled, Harper went to the hallway outside the clubhouse, still in uniform, and met Kayla. Together, they opened the envelope with the Nationals’ official offer: 10 years, $300 million, with explanations of how roughly $100 million of that money would be deferred, the last payment coming in 2052.
Imagine offering someone $300 million in a letter and them not even opening it.
Their second offer came months later. It was more hilarious.
When the calendar flipped to 2019, the Nationals got back to Harper and Boras with a new offer Jan. 3: 12 years for $250 million, according to one person with direct knowledge of the terms. Much like the proposal they made to Harper before the season ended, some of the money was deferred. The last payment from this contract, according to the person, would have come in 2072.
Well, Bryce, if you didn’t love $300 million spread out over 33 years, you’re going to love $250 million spread out over 52!
They… they… they don’t know how to haggle.
If I were Harper, I’d be OFFENDED. Offering him a low-ball deal under the guise of hometown discount or loyalty is one thing, but deferring the money so you can invest the float for, oh, the next two generations is delirious.
The Giants, Padres and Giants came forth, each with differing offers: The Giants with an eight-year offer, the Dodgers with a four-year, high-average-annual-value one.
But Harper wanted years, a city and… a home.
So along came Papa Middleton to get things done:
What mattered more: Middleton and his wife, Leigh , flew back to Las Vegas for a Feb. 22 dinner with Bryce and Kayla Harper. The next day, Middleton called Boras and told him he wasn’t leaving. Could they have lunch? “John was so intense,” Boras said. After those meetings, Harper said, he could imagine signing with the Phillies.
“They were just open and honest with me about their concerns about me coming to Philly and vice versa,” Harper said. “They wanted to understand if they could trust me as a person, trust me as a player. And I love that. I was like, ‘Man, these people are really engaged on the players they want in their clubhouse and the players they want in their city.’ John was able to put his faith in me with the amount of years that he offered, and that’s a big leap.”
OH GOD GET ME THE EGGPLANT EMOJIS.
Middleton’s intensity and compassion is what sealed the deal. Talk about talking the stupid money talk and walking the walk.
And Harper is doing the same. Turns out, he didn’t want to play out West because of those little ancillary things that little Mike Trout prefers to shy away from. Like Sunday Night Baseball being at night:
“I really didn’t want to play out west,” Harper said. “It’s a little close to Vegas, you know what I’m saying? I love my family. But I love the East Coast as well. I love the vibe there, the intensity, the way ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ is actually at night. Stuff like that mattered.”
DEEP INTO THE NIGHT:
— MLB (@MLB) April 1, 2019
That just would not have looked the same under the smog-riddled haze of Cali. Bryce Harper wanted to play at night, dammit!
And the Nationals… well, haha, they just wanted someone to open that Treasury Bond offer for Bryce’s grandkid.