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Bryce Harper is very interested in a number of teams, according to Scott Boras

Bryce Harper is very interested in a number of teams, according to Scott Boras

Scott Boras, the most famous agent in baseball and the man who represents Bryce Harper, held his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, and Bryce Harper dominated the conversation this year.

It’s no surprise, considering Harper’s stature within the game, his impressive resume as a 26-year old free agent, and his long-rumored desire to become the highest-paid player in baseball history.

As someone trying to maximize Harper’s next contract, Boras was sure to refer to the star outfielder in glowing terms.

Historic. Generational. Iconic.

These adjectives are to be expected from an agent in Boras’ position. And, of course, Boras made all the right comments about Harper being open to multiple teams. The more bidders, the higher the bidding goes.

Harper taking such an interest in the business side of things was unexpected from many organizations, though.

“We’ve delivered literally well over two to three thousand pages of information to Bryce through this process. He’s a great student of the game,” Boras told members of the media on Wednesday. “[In meetings] They’re shocked about his understanding of the business model, franchise value, he’s very adept.”

Harper is making it a point to consider a multitude of factors during the biggest decision of his life. It’s a choice he’ll have to live with for years, and he is considering more than just money. Clearly, he’s taking the long view over a short-term outlook.

Boras even confirmed that their team was looking at farm systems for Harper’s respective suitors, to help envision where each franchise is headed and his client’s role within each organization. And again, Harper has been determined to be a part of this evaluation process. 

“We’ve given Bryce exhaustive reviews of every organization, he’s very studied of each, his evaluation when looking at it. He’s been very active in our dialogues discussing this with teams.”

Boras also acknowledged Mark Lerner’s earlier comments about the Nationals being discouraged about potentially bringing back Harper, though he was quick to emphasize that when GM Mike Rizzo says the door remains open, that fans and the media should pay attention.

The Yankees are another potential suitor whose recent comments have led fans to believe they may be out of the running, but Boras made it clear that Harper is still considering several franchises.

“Any free agent has goals about family and their value and the organization they play for. Bryce is open to a lot of different venues, it’s really about the owner’s commitment and what they want to do long term,” Boras told reporters. 

“I think Bryce is open to geography, what he’s looking for is ownership to make sure he has every opportunity to achieve his goals. Win a world championship, play on competitive teams every year, as best as teams can be competitive annually in today’s game, and a lot of owners believe their franchise can do that.”

The question is, does Harper believe these franchises can do it? Does he believe the Nationals can?

Boras, Harper and the Nationals have a great relationship according to the agent. And each party has a clear understanding of the other. It would certainly seem like Washington is still in the running to ink Harper, though that can be said of several different teams at this point. Not every team is operating publicly, either.

“This is not a race where every car is labeled. A lot of people want to keep what they’re doing private,” Boras explained. “Some clubs are more open and direct about what they’re doing, some clubs want a private process.”

The proverbial “mystery team” appears to very much still be in play here, and there’s no real timeline for when the decision will be made. Boras implied something could be one or two meetings away from happening, or that they could be weeks or even months away from finalizing a deal.

Wherever he ends up, Boras is confident Bryce will make a major impact, both with his play on the field and the interest he’ll drum up among the fanbase. He’s also a big believer in Harper’s presence in the clubhouse, even as a player not yet in his prime.

When asked about Harper’s leadership abilities, Boras suggested to a reporter that “maybe you should call Juan Soto and ask him about that.”

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Reports: MLB owners approve deal on coronavirus-induced measures for 2020 season

Reports: MLB owners approve deal on coronavirus-induced measures for 2020 season

Major League Baseball’s team owners have reportedly voted to approve a labor agreement between the league and its players union that implements a series of measures designed to help baseball weather the coronavirus outbreak.

Several changes were reported Thursday evening before the owners ratified the agreement.

Among them were a transaction freeze, the assurance that players’ service time clocks would be unaffected by any suspension or cancellation of the season, a reduction in the number of rounds in the next two amateur drafts, a potential delay to the international signing period and the adjustment of arbitration rules to avoid penalizing players for lower counting stats during a shortened season.

More details emerged Friday as reporters collected information surrounding the deal.

- According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the 2020 season will not begin until three major thresholds are met: 1) The bans on mass gatherings in states with MLB clubs are lifted, unless MLB decides to host games at neutral sites or without fans instead. 2) There are no travel restrictions. 3) Health experts deem it safe for both teams and fans to attend games.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that signing bonuses for players drafted over the next two years will not increase as was originally outlined in the current collective bargaining agreement. It’s a decision that agent Scott Boras has called “unconscionable.”

- Passan also added that MLB would consider running a combine for amateur players ahead of the next two drafts and that drug-related suspensions will be still served in 2020—but if the season is cancelled, then those suspensions would be waived.

- While not clear if part of the agreement itself, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that the commissioner’s office has “an understanding with all 30 teams” that their non-player employees would be paid through April 30. A decision has not been made as to what will happen after that.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that it’s unlikely MLB will be able to play a full 162-game season, but that both the league and its players hope to play as many games as possible—with ideas like scheduled double-headers and fewer off days on the table.

No firm date was given as to when MLB hopes to begin its season.

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Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña are earning comparisons to MLB greats. What can we expect in Year Three?

Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña are earning comparisons to MLB greats. What can we expect in Year Three?

Juan Soto ventured into enemy territory last summer when his friend and contemporary Ronald Acuña emerged from the visitor’s dugout at Nationals Park and began to chirp at him.

The pair hit it off when together for the MLB All-Stars in Japan during the 2018 offseason. When they exist as rivals -- at least by the standard of being in the same division -- they still joke, hug and admire. Any comparison of the two will not be centered on vitriol. They’re having too much fun hammering baseballs in their early 20s.

Should the season restart, Soto and Acuña will start their third year in the National League East. It won’t be a full season. We already know that because of the current hiatus, but it may be enough to have another reputable look at next steps for each. And where they already are is comparable with any young duo in the history of the game.

Here are the totals from their first two years in the league:

Acuña: 67 home runs, 130 OPS-plus, 9.9 WAR.

Soto: 56 home runs, 140 OPS-plus, 7.4 WAR.

Acuña is 22 years old. He has a Rookie of the Year Award and fifth-place MVP finish on his ledger.

Soto is 21 years old. He finished second to Acuña in Rookie of the Year voting in 2018. He finished ninth in MVP voting last year.

Their mutual beginnings are so potent, a recent pairing to compare them to is Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

Sounds ambitious. If not flatly hyperbolic. And, when it comes to Trout, it is.

He compiled 19.4 bWAR in his first two full seasons at age 20 and 21. That’s more than Acuña and Soto combined. Trout was intertwined in a who-is-the-best debate with Harper at that point. That discussion is long over.

Harper’s 8.9 bWAR the first two seasons (age 19 and 20, respectively) falls right in line with Acuña and Soto. He was essentially the average of the pair.

Let’s dial back to other young stars.

Mickey Mantle finished with 12.2 bWar across 1952 and 1953, when he was 20 and 21 years old, respectively. Willie Mays pulled together 14.4 bWar in 1951 and 1954 combined. Mays was 20 years old in his first full season. His 21-year-old season was abbreviated, and 22-year-old season non-existent because of military service. Hank Aaron compiled 7.6 bWAR in his first two years when playing in his age-20 and age-21 seasons for the Milwaukee Braves. And, just as a head-shaking aside, it’s always fun to point out Mays was a 24-time All-Star and Aaron a 25-time All-Star. Decent efforts on their part.

So, what came in Year 3 for everyone listed above?

Trout was named MVP after a 7.7 WAR season at age 22. Harper was hurt, then put together his best year, his MVP season in 2015 when 22 years old.

Mantle had a strong 6.9-WAR season when he was 22 years old.

Mays, then 24, went crazy his third full season in the majors: 51 homers, 13 triples, a 1.059 OPS, .659 slugging percentage, 79 walks and 60 strikeouts. Put it another way: Mays had more combined homers and triples than strikeouts in 1955 when he was 24 years old. And yet, he finished fourth -- fourth! -- in 1955 MVP balloting behind Roy Campanella, Duke Snider and Ernie Banks.

Aaron finished with a .923 OPS and 7.2 WAR in year three.

Soto and Acuña will be hard-pressed to reach similar WAR totals in a shortened season. However, they still have another decade for future comparisons and to keep chasing the ghosts of the greats.

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