SI’s Verducci on Harper Free Agency: ‘There Aren’t Going to Be Compromises’

After a posting a recent 101 ESPN story regarding Bryce Harper’s free agency, we asked our social media followers if they’d be okay with the Cardinals offering up a 10-year, $400 million contract with an opt-out clause attached.

In going back and reading your responses, it seems a majority of Cardinal Nation are on-board with the Teddy KGB philosophy:


Well, according to senior Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci, Harper and agent Scott Boras are interested in turning this sweepstakes into as big a cash-cow as humanly possible. Verducci wrote a recent piece on the situation, and in it he reflects on covering Harper as a teenage prodigy and why the player’s entire career has been driving toward this specific free agent moment.

“To get Bryce Harper, you’re going to have to pay him either $35 million per year for x-number of years, or you’re going to have to give him a contract that is north of Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million,” Verducci told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show’ recently. “It’s as simple as that to me. This guy has basically waited his whole young life to get into this position where he puts his prime years up for auction on a free agent market, and there are not going to be compromises. Money is going to be the deciding factor here.”

Verducci, like others who have discussed this ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ with us, lists the Nationals and Phillies as the two front-runners out of the gate. Asked if he thinks the Cardinals are in the picture, he believes they’re one of a handful of teams on the fringe.

“I do think they’re at least in the game,” he said. “There are a lot of clubs, and I throw the Yankees in this group as well, who I think could do it, but they’re not jumping into the deep end of the pool. This is a ‘toe in the water,’ see where it goes, see if the player really has interest in your team.

“But (Washington and Philadelphia), to me, going in, seem to be the preeminent favorites,” the scribe added.

There are those dissenters among local fans as well, though. These folks are of the mind that a massive contract taking Harper through to the twilight of his career is risky because his output and value will no doubt sink as years roll on. After all, no one beats Father Time. It’s science, right?

Normally this is true, but Verducci believes Harper may be one of a few exceptions to this rule on the baseball diamond.

“He’ll play next year at 26. He’s done things as far as hitting home runs and getting on base with walks that have rarely been done at this age in the history of baseball,” he said. “He’s on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory. These players don’t just come on the market at 26, and they think he’s a guy that’s totally invested in the game of baseball.

“I think he’ll always find a way to hit. Where he goes defensively at the back half of this contract, I’m not sure. But this is one case, to me, where I think you are buying a good value in terms of length,” he added. “And there have been guys who have done it, whether it be Derek Jeter or Dave Winfield. Admittedly not a lot, but I think this guy should be an exception.”

You can hear all of Verducci’s 101 ESPN visit below. Stay connected with us for plenty of MLB hot stove chatter throughout the winter.

More: Columnist Thinks Harper Will Consider Any Market for a Record-Breaking Deal