Well into free agency, Bryce Harper still thought he was going to remain a Washington National, but he also assumed he'd be able to get more from the franchise than the 10-year $300 million contract offered to him in September.

But what Harper viewed as a jumping off point, the Nationals saw it as their best and only offer. And that's why, according to a report from The Washington Post on Monday, when the Nats went back to Harper with another offer in January, it was significantly lower and with far more money deferred. 

Washington's first offer to Harper, which came amid a rain delay during the team's last home game in 2018, had about $100 million of the total deferred so much that his last paycheck would be in 2052. Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, didn't counter the first proposal, but Harper told The Washington Post that he thought of it as an offer impossible to reject but wanted to "build off that."

And down the road as the Nats continued building their 2019 team, they had less money to offer Harper. 


So in January, they offered the star free agent a 12-year, $250 million deal with the final payment on this option coming in 2072, "one person with direct knowledge of the terms" told The Washington Post. More from the report:

The deferrals lessened the net present value of the contract considerably, though the Nationals and Boras’s team differ in their calculations. Boras’s team told Harper that, using a 6 percent discount rate, the new contract offer was worth just more than $107 million.

“I got that offer, and I kind of was like, ‘Dang,’” he said. “But for me, it was like, ‘Okay, I understand they’re building a team there. I understand they’re going to be really, really good. I understand they have Juan Soto. I understand they have [Victor] Robles.’ So my thing was . . . I don’t want to take something that’s way, far less than I’d get elsewhere, and less than the first offer, with high deferrals. I don’t want to be a guy that gets paid till I’m 65. That doesn’t do it for me. . . .

“So after I got that offer, it hit me like, ‘Damn. I could be going somewhere else.’ So I turned it. I was like, ‘I really need to start focusing on my meetings.’”

That was the end of the road for the Nats. And in February, the Phillies went to Harper and Boras with the then-record 13-year, $330 million deal he ended up signing, with none of the money deferred like with the Nats' offers.

Harper and his new team opened the 2019 season with a 3-0 start, and he will return to Washington for the first time Tuesday, facing ace Max Scherzer on the mound.