Chicago Cubs: Bar has been set for Bryce Harper deal

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs and the rest of the league now have a clearer picture of what it will cost to sign star free agent Bryce Harper. Spoiler alert: it’s not cheap.

The Chicago Cubs have long been rumored to be a favorite destination for outfielder Bryce Harper if he ever left the Washington Nationals. After another season of high expectations for the Nationals that didn’t pan out, Harper is now an unrestricted free agent.

The price tag on Harper was already going to be astronomical, but there was more clarity this week after he rejected a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Nationals. The reported deal had no opt-out clauses, which are rumored to be essential in whatever deal he signs.

This deal was apparently based on similar offers to players like outfielder Giancarlo Stanton who signed a 13-year, $325 million deal in 2014. It’s also important to note that the Nationals will likely make a richer offer to try and get Harper to stay.

Sports agent and Bond villain lookalike Scott Boras (who represents Harper) said that there’s no comparing Stanton’s contract to Harper’s demands for his new deal.  (Via The Athletic):

"We have all kinds of evidence that anybody who’s done what Bryce Harper has done [at his age]–they’re Hall of Famers. I can show it 12 different ways. So you have a chance to employ a 25-year-old future Hall of Famer; you [rarely] get that opportunity. And the other thing is, Bryce has iconic value, which creates revenues for teams in addition to his performance. Those types of players are rare and they pay for themselves."

Boras did an interview in the New York Post that provided a clearer picture of just how much he thinks Harper is worth. Hint: it’s a lot of money. He also laid out why the Nationals offer wasn’t good enough. (Via NY Post):

"[Washington] did not pay anywhere near [Harper’s] $400 million to $500 million in [true value]. This has been great value and is great value."

Okay, then. While Boras getting a $500 million contract for his client is most likely a pipe dream, it was expected that Boras would be aggressive in his valuation. He wants a team to offer a historic contract. I don’t think the Cubs have that kind of money to throw around this offseason.

Which team will finally offer Harper the record-setting deal he’s asking for is unclear. The Philadelphia Phillies have a ton of money to spend this offseason if that’s the path they choose. They’ve been rumored to be interested in both Harper and infielder Manny Machado.

The wildcard for the Cubs is Harper’s close friendship with third baseman Kris Bryant. Both Bryant and Harper are from the Las Vegas area. The duo has played baseball both as teammates and on rival teams since they were around eight years old.

The only way I can see the All-Star outfielder wearing Cubbie blue next year is if he decides that playing alongside his childhood friend is more important than a bank-breaking contract.

It’s no secret that Harper shows love for Chicago. He posted a picture on Instagram wearing a Chicago Bulls hat last week and the internet went crazy with speculation. For now, I’m going to treat it like he was wearing a cool hat that he liked and nothing more.

It’s unlikely that the Cubs will spend big this offseason to get a player like Harper or Machado, but you never know with this front office. Future Hall of Fame executive Theo Epstein may have some tricks up his sleeve to make room money-wise.

Next. Cubs Rumors: Pursuing Harper, Machado is a must. dark

I’m one of those Cubs fans hoping for a miracle that ends with Harper on the north side of the city. It’s been a blast to watch him since he came into the league at just 19 years old. Fingers crossed.