Do the Nats HAVE to Sign Harper?

Now, I am not going to get all excited about anything involving Bryce Harper until about 11:59 pm on August 16th. And I will be, if the drive goes well, in Texas getting my brother to grad school at that time, so I won’t even write a post about it then. That being said, something interesting came to my attention from today’s ESPN article by Jayson Stark:

The Nationals are already floating the hard line that if they don’t get Harper signed, they’d happily take the No. 2 overall pick next year in what’s viewed as a much deeper draft.

That’s not exactly your classic, upbeat, don’t-sweat-it-we’ll-get-him-signed kind of talk, considering the Nationals now have less than two weeks to get this deal done. But whether it’s spin or an indication that their negotiations with Scott Boras are in a danger zone, it’s one more sign that teams are prepared to hang tough with their picks, now that the prospect of some sort of slotting system looms in the next labor deal.

At this point, my first reaction is that it’s total spin, and that they’re completely crazy to think someone is better than Harper. After all, we’ve been trained to believe Harper is the second coming of Babe Ruth/Josh Gibson/Lou Gehrig/Stan Musial/Willie Mays/James Hellwig so they would never want to miss that. But the next line was this:

“I’ll say this,” said an official of one team. “Considering that [Harper] is 17 years old, there’s a good chance that No. 2 pick next year gets to the major leagues before Bryce Harper.”

It got me thinking, and keep in mind I don’t know ANYTHING about the talent coming out in the next draft, but at this point the Nats have the 9th pick next year, would they be ok with the #2 as well instead of Bryce? Would we, the fans? I don’t know, maybe it’s not such a bad thing, but losing Harper would not reflect well on the franchise. And I don’t know if it’ll take all the long for Harper. He’s 17, but he could be in the majors the year he turns 19, which would be 2012. Justin Upton and Ken Griffey, Jr did it. ARod was playing in Seattle at 18.  So anyway, setting aside all the positioning and spin on both sides of the table, just out of curiosity, what is your take on the signing of Harper?

4 Responses to Do the Nats HAVE to Sign Harper?

  1. @notrizzo says:

    Missing factoid in Stark’s analysis is that the Nats would be hard pressed to get maximum value from the #2 overall pick in ’11 since that pick is “unprotected” (ie sign or lose by the club). Some say the Nats “settled” on Storen with 9A last year (if so may they always settle as well).

    I also put the rumor output on this on the same plane as Harper’s facebook update about returning to CSN (which is really silly, they don’t even have the same coaching staff).

  2. Todd Boss says:

    Just shoot me if we’re going to spend the next two weeks playing Boras’ scare tactics game about not getting the #1 overall pick signed.

    He’s not going back to school. The kid didn’t graduate two years early and play a year of JuCo in BFE nevada so that he could NOT turn pro. He’s going to sign.

    But yes, at the same time the Nats absolutely positively have to sign him. An unprotected #2 overall next year would be a huge step down from Harper.

  3. bdrube says:

    Do they have to sign him? Of course they do. How is anyone ever going to take this franchise seriously if they don’t. At some point ownership is going to have to open up its wallet and spend money or in a couple of years there won’t be anybody left but crickets and Phillies fans at Nats park.

  4. Steveospeak says:

    Yeah the Nats don’t have a choice here they need to sign Harper. But at the same time Harper needs to sign as well or he will be out a good bit of money. He will set everything back at least a year, not to mention all the endorsement deals that will be coming his way once he signs. I don’t believe Harper has this unlimited leverage that everyone talks about, but the Nats will probably have to get near the Strasburg money range I’m betting $12 million ML deal.

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