Agents and executives reportedly believe Phillies will land Bryce Harper

Undeterred by last winter's free-agent freeze, Scott Boras...

Bryce Harper rejected contract offer from Nationals

Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300-million deal from Washington in September.

So where does that leave Harper and the Nationals now?

Harper did not accept the initial offer and the two parties could not reach a deal while the former MVP was still under contract with the Nationals, which meant Washington held exclusive negotiating rights with Harper until he hit the open market.

The free agent outfielder declined the offer and opted for free agency. For years now, Boras has been selling Harper as a talent so rare he could command more than $400 million, and when presented with that number this week, he joked, "Why be so limiting?"

Janes added, "Important on Harper: Both sides considered this a respectful offer".

An unbelievable amount to turn down - as it would be the biggest free-agent deal in terms of total money in the history of the four major sport - but also almost $100 million short of what Harper and agent Scott Boras are seeking.

Indeed, the Nationals need starting pitching, a catcher and to upgrade their bench. National League Rookie of the Year candidate Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Victor Robles could start on Opening Day for Washington. Nightengale says that Harper is seeking a 13-year deal that tops the average annual value of $34.42 million that Zack Greinke now has in his deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I'm comfortable with the alternative [to Harper re-signing]", Rizzo said. It's not hard to see why Phillies managing partner John Middleton, along with general manager Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail, would be willing to issue a historic contract to Harper to play his home games at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

So, how does Harper's offer compare to other big contracts?

Given Harper's history with the Nationals, he seems unlikely to make a deal elsewhere without first circling back.

Zack Greinke ($US34 million), David Price ($US31 million) and Clayton Kershaw ($US31 million) all got more. But no position player has ever earned an average annual value of more than $27.5 million (Alex Rodriguez and Yoenis Cespedes). It was not enough.

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