The hype surrounding Bryce Harper’s free agency consumed the attention of baseball fanatics nationwide throughout this past MLB offseason. In the end, the All-Star right fielder inked a monstrous 13-year deal worth $330 million with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving the Washington Nationals after seven seasons with the club.
What many aren’t aware of, however, is that Harper planned on re-signing with the Nationals long term before negotiations fell apart.
In fact, the right fielder told The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga he was convinced he’d be returning to the squad as late as December 2018, and relayed as much to his wife Kayla.
“I’m sitting there like, ‘I’m gonna be a National. I’m gonna be a National,’ ” he said. ” ‘They’re going to make me an offer this week. We’re going to build off of that, and it’s gonna happen.’ I told Kayla, ‘Be ready to go back.’ I flat-out told her. I was psyched.”
Initially, the Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300-million deal to keep him with Washington. But the right fielder and his agent Scott Boras reportedly told the organization that they would “consider” the offer, but that they wanted to continue negotiations as they work toward a deal.
That’s when things changed.
On Jan. 3, according to Svrluga, citing sources, the Nationals provided Harper with an updated offer: 12 years for $250 million.
It was then Harper realized his career in Washington may be over.
“So after I got that offer, it hit me like, ‘Damn. I could be going somewhere else.’ So I turned it,” he said. “I was like, ‘I really need to start focusing on my meetings.’ ”
Then the Phillies came around with their offer, and Harper couldn’t refuse.
“I kind of hugged Kayla and said, ‘We’re going to Philly,’ ” he said.
But that doesn’t mean splitting with the Nationals wasn’t bittersweet for the right fielder.
“I’ve said it a million times: Those are the fans I grew up in front of. That was my first fan base,” he said, noting how much he “cherished” the memories he made with the team.
Harper will return to Washington D.C. on Tuesday for the first time since signing with Philadelphia.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images