After FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reminded us about the situation a couple of weeks ago, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that Bryce Harper’s grievance hearing against the Nationals is scheduled for Tuesday in New York.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, here’s a quick recap: After Harper was drafted in 2010, he reached an oral agreement on a five-year major league contract with the Nationals just minutes before the signing deadline. The Nationals were adamant that the contract wouldn’t include an opt-out if Harper qualified for arbitration during the deal, but Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, was under the impression that the opt-out would be included in the contract. When Boras eventually received the formal contract from the Nationals, the opt-out was not included in the deal and Harper refused to sign it. The MLBPA soon stepped in with a compromise, stating that if Harper qualified for arbitration during the deal, there would be a grievance hearing regarding the opt-out clause.
To be clear, this opt-out is strictly about arbitration. He’s still under team control through 2018 no matter what. Anyway, Harper has logged enough service time to qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player. He’s currently under contract for $1.5 million next season, but MLB Trade Rumors projects that he could make $2.5 million through arbitration. This isn’t just about 2015 though, as there could be millions more at stake if he goes through the process four times as opposed to three.
There’s still a chance that the Nationals and Harper will settle their differences before Tuesday, but if not, each side will make their case in front of a three-person panel of arbitrators. That’s far from ideal, as it risks the possibility of bad blood between the player and the team. Ultimately, the Nationals will have to ask themselves if being stingy about a few million is worth it with one of their most important players.