With the Bryce Harper sweepstakes still captivating the baseball world, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the thick of a free agent decision that can alter the league landscape for potentially the next decade.
If a deal does happen between the two sides, though, it appears like it is going to be dependent on some compromises between the two parties.
Harper is believed to be seeking a long-term deal that would set the record for the amount of money given to a free agent.
The rumblings are that he has his eye on a 10-year contract, although it remains to be seen how enthusiastic teams are about making that type of commitment.
The Dodgers and Harper obviously have a mutual interest in one another, but there are some key factors that could ultimately impede an agreement.
Harper apparently wants to join the team, but he realizes that he would likely have to accept a deal for less duration than another team would give him.
Alden Gonzalez of ESPN is reporting that Harper really wants to sign with the Dodgers, but it would be dependent on sacrificing both contract duration and total value.
The Dodgers don’t look like they’re preparing to budge on their stance of not going for a long-term deal with Harper.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that the Dodgers aren’t interested in giving Harper a record-setting overall guarantee, but instead want to give him a short-term deal that optimizes his flexibility.
The Dodgers would give Harper a deal that would presumably set the record for highest annual value with multiple opt-out clauses.
If Harper does choose to sign with the Dodgers, it looks like his contract is going to be relatively short and have an extremely high average annual value.
Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that from the Dodgers perspective, the most appealing offer to Harper would be a front-loaded contract with high annual value.
Harper has plenty of time to decide on what route he wants to take, and there are advantages to both types of contracts.
The long-term contract would offer optimal security and lock Harper into a hefty paycheck after what has been an impressive career thus far.
It also would protect him from injury concerns in the future, since the guaranteed money he signed for would come his way regardless of it he’d be out on the field.
It would also protect him from any statistical decreases in the coming years since he’d be getting paid well into the future based on what he commanded this offseason.
The short-term deal would be riskier in some respects but would also give him the opportunity to essentially bet on himself these next few years.
If Harper has some of the best seasons of his career these next couple seasons, he could go through this process all over again.
He’d be a couple years older, but could theoretically end up making more total money over the course of the next decade or so if he cashes in on some monster seasons in a couple years.
Harper could maintain the flexibility to once again put his services on the open market in a couple years and possibly get even more money.
If he doesn’t feel like he could get more money after an opt-out, though, he simply wouldn’t opt-out and just stay in his current deal.
Of course, Harper could still get his opt-out options included on a long-term deal, giving him ideal flexibility to either stay in his contract or opt out following a season in which his market value increases.
That’s undoubtedly Harper’s dream scenario with this contract, essentially getting to have his cake and eat it too in terms of money and flexibility.
It’s going to be really fascinating to see if a team is willing to go something like 10 years while also giving him numerous out-out options throughout, or if Harper is going to need to prioritize a specific characteristic of the contract.
The Harper deal is likely going to set some important precedents in terms of what young superstars are going to be expecting from here on out when they hit the open market.
The Dodgers can take some confidence in that it seems like Harper really wants this process to end with him signing with them.
There’s no real time limit for these negotiations, though, and it’s likely that there are going to be more crucial developments that impact this decision.