Although Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper is under team control for the next two seasons, speculation is already running rampant as to his future in the nation’s capital beyond the 2018 campaign. 

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Latest on Negotiations Between Harper, Nationals

Monday, Dec. 5

On Monday, USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported Harper is looking to get a deal for 10-plus years worth more than $400 million—terms the Nationals are unwilling to meet at this stage.

Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, refuted the report, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan: “I have had no discussions with the Nationals regarding Harp and a long-term contract.”

Harper’s request for a contract totaling over $400 million wouldn’t be all that surprising. An MLB star is bound to cross that threshold sooner or later after Giancarlo Stanton re-signed with the Miami Marlins for $325 million over 13 years in 2014.

Harper, who turns 26 in two years, will be in the prime of his career, thus sitting in a position to demand one of the richest deals in baseball history, whether it’s with the Nationals or another team.

By his standards, Harper is coming off a disappointing 2016. A year after winning the National League‘s MVP award, he batted .243 with 24 home runs and 86 RBI. His slugging percentage dropped from .649 in 2015 to .441.

Despite his issues at the plate, Harper would likely be able to name his price in free agency should he rebound in 2017 and 2018.

Nationals principal owner Ted Lerner has shown a willingness to spend to make the team a World Series contender. Washington sent a message when it signed Jayson Werth for seven years and $126 million in 2010, and it has subsequently handed out contracts worth a combined $485 million to Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman.

Still, re-signing Harper will be a major challenge for the Nationals. He has little incentive to agree on an extension before hitting free agency, and should he hit the open market, there’s no telling how high his price tag could climb.

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