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MLB rumors: Nationals, Bryce Harper had preliminary extension talks

Set to hit free agency after next season, the Nationals have begun early discussions to extend Bryce Harper.

MLB: NLDS-Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals and superstar outfielder Bryce Harper have had preliminary discussions regarding an extension, according to Jamal Collier of MLB.com.

Harper’s agent Scott Boras is not typically known for extending his clients before giving them the chance to see what kind of deal they could fetch on the open market. For Harper, many anticipate that he could become the MLB’s first $400-million player. And he could strike a deal even larger than that. When asked how realistic an extension was, Boras pinned it on Nats’ ownership, indicating that it is contingent on how sizable the offer is.

Despite being injured at the end of the season, Harper pieced together another strong campaign in 2017 slashing .319/.413/.595 (1.008 OPS) with 29 homers, 87 RBIs, and 27 doubles. The 25-year-old has compiled a .285/.386/.515 line with five All-Star appearances in his six career seasons.

Boras did strike a massive contract with right-hander Stephen Strasburg and Washington last offseason bringing the Cy-Young finalist back to the nation’s capital, so it will be interesting to see if he has a similar approach with Harper. Due to Harper’s youth and pedigree over the last few seasons, the 2015 NL MVP and former Rookie of the Year may decide to test the market regardless.

However, it is significant that the two sides are meeting this early to work on a potential discussion. Despite these extension talks being preliminary, this is something that is likely to be beneficial to both sides, as the Nationals can begin the framework for a potential record-breaking deal, and Harper should be able to access which direction the talks are heading very early in the process.