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Harper signs before deadline

Aug 17, 2010, 2:37 AM EST

Rest easy, everyone: Bryce Harper has signed with the Nationals.

The 17-year-old and the Nats came to terms on a contract shortly before tonight’s midnight deadline, ensuring the No. 1 draft pick will enter the organization’s farm system and begin his trek toward a possible major-league debut in the next two or three seasons.

Terms of the deal weren’t immediately known, but Harper was given a major-league contract.

Read the full article on

UPDATE AT 12:47 A.M. — Just got back from the pseudo-press conference with the Nats front office. There’s plenty to digest and relay here, but let me just start by saying of all the things I thought I might see tonight, Stan Kasten slamming a whipped cream pie in Mike Rizzo’s face was not on my list.

UPDATE AT 1:02 A.M. — Sorry, meant to post this a few minutes ago, but the contract is five years for $9.9 million. $6.25 million of that is the signing bonus. The rest is salaries from 2009-2014. Also, because he got a big-league contract and will have to use one of his options this year, he’ll be out of options in spring training 2013 and thus HAVE to make the Opening Day roster. (I could be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure that’s correct.)

UPDATE AT 1:21 A.M. — OK, it appears I was wrong (big surprise). A few people on Twitter say a player with less than five years of professional experience can get a fourth option year. So it would appear Harper could still be optioned to the minors in 2013 but would be out of options by 2014.

UPDATE AT 1:47 A.M.The full, final version of the story, complete with quotes, contract terms and other details about the plan for Harper now, is up on (Edit to add: You can also see the video of Mike Rizzo getting a pie in the face and wearing the Silver Elvis wig.)

  1. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    You got the scoop!

  2. Pete - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    The whooshing sound you hear is thousands of Nationals fans collectively exhaling.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:09 AM

    Great. Now sign Dunn.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:10 AM

    Major league contract?? Your CSN story indicated minor league.

  5. Andrew - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    Nats already sent out to Season Ticket Holders: August 17, 2010 NATIONALS SIGN BRYCE HARPERThe Nationals have signed their top draft pick, outfielder Bryce Harper.The 17 year-old Harper was widely considered to be the best draft-eligible player in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and backed that up with a dominant freshman season at the College of Southern Nevada this summer. He set a new school record with 31 home runs and drove in 98 runs while batting .443 to earn the Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year award.This is the second straight year the Nationals have been able to sign the No. 1 overall pick of the First-Year Player Draft.

  6. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    Big league? So he gets on the 40-man roster immediately? Who gets bumped? And they burn a spot for 2-3 years? Is that how this will work?

  7. Spike94wl - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    First to break the story Mark. Thank you for allowing me to breathe. I owe you one.

  8. Ernie - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    I'm sure things are crazy right now in the press box now, but at some point could someone explain the significance of a major league vs. a minor league contract? I guess I'm not enough of a fan to read the collective bargaining agreement. I just like to watch the game.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    If he has a major league contract, does that speed up his clock for free agency or rule 5 draft?

  10. Richard - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    Mark, your CSN article mentions that Harper probably got a minor league contract while Strasburg got a major league contract. Can you (or one of the bloggers) touch on the significance of that to the player. Minor league contracts, I assume, save a spot on the team's 40-man roster, but what does the player gain?

  11. HHover - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Big league contract? What's the point of that? There doesn't seem to be any advantage for the team. Is it because Boras didn't get all the $$$ he wanted but gets this as a sop?

  12. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:19 AM

    Keith Law of ESPN said it was a major league deal but less bonus than Strasburg received. He thought it was surprisingly low–for what that's worth. I am surprised they will take up a 40 many spot for him

  13. Natsochist - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    Mark,Yahoo! reporting a $9.9m signing bonus (although they're also, of course, mistakenly calling that the highest amount ever paid to a position player).Any updates on that?(Also, as many others have said, thanks for being the first to break official news of all four signings tonight. Well done!)

  14. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    It does mean he will start burning those minor league options immediately.

  15. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    Does this mean they're sending J-Max back to SYR?

  16. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    Rmoore446: Good job bringing that up….how do options figure in here now? I know what they are, but not how they accrue or go away or what.

  17. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:23 AM

    ESPN said the bonus was surprisingly low–$5-6 million. I think we are in the fog of war/draft deadline night.

  18. HHover - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:25 AM

    Yahoo sports says total contract is $9.9M, not signing bonus. So the lower figure ($6M) for signing bonus could well be correct.

  19. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    Sounds like he trade a couple million for the major league deal….Read that his family isn't hurting for money, so maybe that was the plan all along. Drive price up, then give some back to get what you want. But what does that get him over a minor league deal with a couple million more? Easy answer is "40 man roster spot" but what's that mean for a guy who will go to the minors and be there for 2-3 years?

  20. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:29 AM

    I believe any player on the 40-man roster but not the active 25 man roster for any part of more than three seasons (in which he spent 20 or more total days of service in the minors), he is out of options and may not be assigned to the minors without first clearing waivers.

  21. Andrew - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    ESPN is saying $9.9 over 5 years. Not sure if Mark can confirm.

  22. Suicide Squeeze - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:32 AM

    Rmoore466: Thank you! And if that's 100% accurate, that means the Nats are essentially saying Harper hits the bigs in 2 years, leaving a third year in pocket if they need to shuffle him down to the minors for whatever reason.

  23. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    Mark's update at 1:02, matches the explanation I gave of options earlier (glad I didn't mess that up!). It is a significant factor in the deal. As Mark says, the Nats have to burn an option this year and that only leaves two more for 2011 and 2012. He'll have to be on the 2013 active roster.

  24. raymitten - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    All this is fabulous. But they are still gonna have to sign Adam Dunn for me to rest easy.

  25. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    "As Mark says, the Nats have to burn an option this year and that only leaves two more for 2011 and 2012. He'll have to be on the 2013 active roster."No he won't. That's not how options work. You only have to burn an option if you move the player from the majors to the minors during a season. So yes, since they signed him to a major league contract they will use his first option when they assign him to a minor league squad to begin his progression back to the majors. But no matter how long it takes, they don't have to use another one of his options until he's in the majors and they decide to send him back down for some reason. And that may never happen, because like Strasburg they will probably not bring him up until they're sure it's going to be for good.

  26. Anonymous8 - Aug 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I think Raymitten is even smiling and I agree that Adam Dunn is the next player that has to be rewarded, with a contract extension.This Draft was a 4 HR game as they got all 4 of the main guys. AJ Cole was the biggest as Bryce Harper I believed was in the bag unless the team wasn't willing to give in and to be honest, I think both sides hammered out a reasonable deal giving up some money for a MLB contract.The creme pie along with the silver Elvis wig is a nice way that this ownership has given Mike Rizzo all the glory on this Draft as well as last years. My prediction is that Bryce Harper's marketing team gets going soon and he will be the most recognized Minor Leaguer ever. Custom cleats, wristbands, sunglasses, tshirt, and the cover of the next Bowman's baseball box!

  27. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    I would like to see all the 'cheap Lerners' crowd come out today and admit they are wrong (not happening). They spent 13.7 mil on 4 draft picks – all over slot. The Dunn situation needs to be looked at strictly as a baseball decision; we already know that the team will spend the money if it helps the team; the question is: Is Adam Dunn the best spend of 40 mil for 3 years or can you get a better bang for your money? I don't know the answer but I would resist repeating the stupid easy parrot like comments such as: 'The Lerners are cheap'.

  28. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    You forgot to mention the best part – the video of Kasten pieing Rizzo. :-)—UPDATE AT 1:47 A.M. — The full, final version of the story, complete with quotes, contract terms and other details about the plan for Harper now, is up on

  29. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Eh, evidently the video is gone. Never mind…

  30. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Anonymous@8:26I was wrong (as was Mark) on saying Harper would have to be on the big league active roster by 2013. But I don't think your explanation is accurate. The difference I think is being on the 40 man roster changes how it is calculated.Here is the explanation from the Website Bizofbaseball, which tracks what I have found elsewhere but has more details–of interest here is that according to this explanation, the short time leagues i.e.Gulf Coast and Arizona Rookie. Here are the details:When a player is added to the 40-man roster, his club has three “options,” or three separate seasons during which the club may to move him to and from the minor leagues without exposing him to other clubs. A player on the 40-man roster playing in the minors is on optional assignment, and within an option season, there is no limit on the number of times a club may demote and recall a player. However, a player optioned to the minor leagues may not be recalled for at least 10 days, unless the club places a Major League player on the disabled list during the 10-day window.After three options are exhausted, the player is out of options. Beginning with the next season, he must clear waivers before he may be sent to the minors again. See Waivers. Additionally, a player with 5 years of Major League service may not be sent to the minor leagues on an optional assignment without his consent.Counting option years * If a player is not sent to the minors during a year, an option is not used. * If a player is on the 40-man roster in spring training but optioned to the minors before the season begins, an option is used. * If a player’s optional assignment(s) to the minors total less than 20 days in one season, an option is not used. * A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of professional experience. A full season is defined as being on an active pro roster for at least 90 days in a season. (If a player is put on the disabled list after earning 60 or more days of service in a single season, his time on the DL is counted.) The 90-day requirement means short-season leagues (New-York Penn, Northwest, Pioneer, Appalachian, Gulf Coast, Arizona Rookie, Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues) do not count as full seasons for the purposes of determining eligibility for a fourth option.

  31. Doc - Aug 17, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Great analysis guys. Mark you were totally on it! As long as MLB can pay an idiot like Bud Selig $18-19 mill, any discussion as to $s amount of signing bonuses, etc. for these kids is superflous. Sign 'em up and lets get going! The Learners deserve a standing O.Now Mike Rizzo, do the more important signing—Adam Dunn! He's playing now, not 3 years from now!

  32. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    From Keith Law:'It's an impressive haul for the Nationals, who spent substantially after the first round this year, nabbing another top-30 talent in enigmatic right-hander A.J. Cole and a fairly quick-to-the-majors left-hander in Sammy Solis. The farm system was badly depleted after years of MLB ownership and the short-term focus of general manager Jim Bowden, but Mike Rizzo has made substantial strides in 18 months at the helm.'

  33. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Doc, I completely agree that the Lerners deserve a standing O as does Rizzo.Now there should be time to get another deal Dunn.

  34. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    "When a player is added to the 40-man roster, his club has three “options,” or three separate seasons during which the club may to move him to and from the minor leagues without exposing him to other clubs. A player on the 40-man roster playing in the minors is on optional assignment, and within an option season, there is no limit on the number of times a club may demote and recall a player."Yes. But if a player has three or two or however many option years left, is on the 40-man roster, and either spends the entire season in the majors or the entire season in the minors, then he is never optioned and the option year is not lost. (As an aside, this is most likely why Shairon Martis has not been brought up this season like other pitchers such as Atilano, Martin, Chico, etc were. When they brought those guys up and then sent them back down, they had to burn an option year for them. Since they never brought Martis up at all this year, they would prefer to yo-yo those other guys whose options they have already used rather than blow one of Martis's options.)So, in Harper's case they burn one option by sending him down to start. But until they bring him up and send him down in some future year they haven't used any more of his remaining option years. If they wait two years or three years or four years to bring him up it won't matter. He'll still have the same number of options remaining whenever they do.

  35. HHover - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    Great reporting on a late night, Mark.A question about the structure and duration of the deal, if you or anyone else can answer it–As I understand it, this is a major league deal for 5 years (thru 2015). As to the significance of that means down the road:1. Are minor league deals typically longer? In other words, does this deal allow him to become a FA sooner than he could have if he'd been assigned a minor league contract?2. Is he under team control only til 2015, or beyond on terms to be negotiated or set by arbitration later?3. Is there any prospect of the rigamarole we saw this spring with the Nats holding back SS's first appearance til early June? Obviously, with Harper it wouldn't occur in 2011, and maybe not til 2013.

  36. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Does this mean we won't lose 100 games in 2014?

  37. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Keith Law put it well. Finally, the Minor leagues are moving up to a respectable level. The Nats can start going after High School kids instead of focusing on Major League ready talent.I saw the video and didn't see any of the Lerner's which I guess is nice to give the focus and credit to Rizzo and his staff. Drafts are great on paper and the real analysis of a draft is years from now when you see how each player progresses and those players perform on the field. The A. J. Cole signing is still the one to watch as he may be as good as any pitcher taken out of the High School ranks in this Draft and up there with Tallion but again time will tell as we see how each performs. Keep in mind that Roy Oswalt was a 23rd round pick and Cliff Lee was a 4th round pick so there are always gems in the later rounds. So don't be surprised if 1 or more from this Draft become superstars in a few years!

  38. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Is there a general consensus among "the people who know" on where the Nats' draft ranks compared to the other teams? How about a projection on the quality of the Nats' farm teams at this point? It would be interesting to know how we are doing in that off-the-field contest.

  39. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    I read this about the final minute and laugh. I bought the Kool-aid last year that it came down to the last minute. I had no worries about Harper. It is Bora$ 101. The course is the same each year. Sure, there may be a time when he has a player that doesn't sign for all the right reasons and in the end the Nats probably through in an extra $500,000 to close the deal. "With a full minute to go, Mike and I both thought we were not going to have a deal done," Kasten said. "It changed during the middle of that last minute. This was literally right at the end. It was just both sides coming together. "I thought we started early enough to avoid [the last minute]. Early in the evening, it sounded like a willingness on the other side to not get in the situation. Yet, there we found ourselves [in that situation]. Said Rizzo: "It was both sides compromising and knowing that we were so close. It would be fruitless to not get a deal done. Like I've always said, we have an organization that wanted the player and a player who wanted to be in the organization. Once the smoke cleared, we found common ground to get a deal done."

  40. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Rmore446, does Peter Angelos and (every almost other owner) deserve a "standing O" for signing their draft picks. These deals except in Aaron Crow's case all get done, and yes it's a good thing we didn't sign him in HINDSIGHT. You draft players to sign them.

  41. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Anon @ 12:51,The point is that the Nats drafted players who were going to be difficult to sign and for whom they had to overpay and they did. That's what's different about this situation.

  42. rmoore446 - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Ah, Anonymous 12:51 is one of those curious folks who still yearn over the lost Aaron Crow. All that matters is the reality, here and now. I am happy having Storen on the team playing a valuable role. Yes, you draft players to sign them but sometimes fate graces a dark cloud with a silver lining. Be happy anonymous 12:51! (who may be the same gloomy gus who debated this with me on another site yesterday)





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