Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper won’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season, but his free agency is still one of the most talked about subjects and has been ever since he unanimously won the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award. In terms of length, total value, and average annual value, Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325 million) and Zack Greinke ($34.42 million) represent the biggest contracts in baseball. Many think Harper will blast past those figures after next season.
ESPN’s Eddie Matz spoke to some front office personnel around baseball. One American League GM, quoted anonymously, said, “He is going to get paid. Like, paid paid.” The GM also said, “Four hundred million is light. It’s going to be more than that. If you could sign him to a 15-year contract, you do it. I would say something in the range of $35 million a year, maybe closer to the high 30s. It could approach 40 million dollars a year.”
Harper appeared to hurt his future earnings with a relatively disappointing campaign in 2016. He posted numbers that would be great for most other hitters, but not for him. He hit .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs, 86 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 627 plate appearances. But that was after leading the majors in on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649), and OPS (1.109) and leading the National League in runs scored (118) and home runs (42) in 2015. This year, he’s back to his MVP-level self, entering Monday’s action batting .324/.441/.648 with 15 home runs, 43 RBI, and 46 runs scored in 213 plate appearances. Barring another dip next year, he’s still set up to potentially become baseball’s first half-billion man. Or, as that anonymous AL GM so eloquently put it, to, “Get paid. Like, paid paid.”
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.