Bryce Harper celebrates record contract with walk-off home run

The Washington Nationals avoided at least one potential source of drama with superstar Bryce Harper on Saturday, agreeing to pay him $21.65M for the 2018 season.

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The announced deal will cover Harper’s final season of arbitration eligibility, which Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports adds that it’s the largest one-year deal ever for an arbitration eligible player. Harper can earn an additional $1M if he wins MVP.

How did Harper celebrate? In true MVP style, by launching a two-run walk-off homer in the Nationals 6-4 win against the Phillies.

The walk-off homer was a no-doubter to straight away center field. It’s the fifth walk-off homer of Harper’s career. So if you thought he wasn’t worth the money earlier on Saturday, then Dusty Baker has eight words for you.

Harper capping his day with a home run was fitting. It gave Nationals fans a real reason to feel good, because despite the new deal there are still a lot of unanswered questions. In fact, in the big picture, the new agreement doesn’t really change anything regarding Harper’s future. He’s still slated to become a 26-year-old free agent following the 2018 season, where it’s likely he’ll earn another record contract in terms of guaranteed money.

Bryce Harper celebrates his dramatic walk-off home run just hours after signing a record one-year deal with the Nationals. (AP)

It’s possible the Nationals are attempting a show of good faith after previously insulting Harper and agent Scott Boras in contract talks. That’s not likely to get far, especially with Boras. There’s no doubt he has his eyes set on negotiating a massive contract for his prized client that will likely overwhelm what most teams can offer, the Nationals included.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made it clear that talks were focused only on 2018, and not a longer term contract.

Rizzo’s comments won’t make Nationals fans feel any better about the prospects of keeping Harper in Washington beyond 2018.

If anything, it puts into perspective how important these next two seasons will be. The Nationals championship window may not entirely revolve around Bryce Harper, but he’s a big part of what makes them one of baseball’s elite franchises. He reminded us why in a big way on Saturday.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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