CARLSBAD, Calif. – The Washington Nationals offered Bryce Harper the biggest contract with a free agent in the history of the four main sports at the end of September, and he and his agent refused. Think about this sentence for a moment and read the two almost startling facts:

First, the relatives – often referred to as incredibly selective and needlessly frugal – were willing to sign a record deal with one of their players. They gave Harper 300 million dollars for 10 years in a deal without opt-outs, as several people knew the terms. The largest free-agent deal in the history of professional sports by total value was Alex Rodriguez's 10-year deal with the New York Yankees in 2007, worth $ 275 million. Giancarlo Stanton's 2014 deal, which guaranteed $ 325 million in 13 seasons, was an expansion.

Second, Bryce Harper and his agent Scott Boras refused the deal. And some would have thought her negligent not to do so. For years, Boras sold Harper as a talent so rare that he could provide more than $ 400 million. When he received that number this week, he joked, "Why so restrictive?"

So where is Harper and the Nationals now? It is important that both sides perceive the offer as legitimate and respectful. Teams occasionally offer tokens to save the rivals face or increase the price. Both sides agree that it is a respectful, genuine effort. But even people who are familiar with the offer point out that it is now off the table, an offer that was to use the exclusive bargaining rights of the Nationals with Harper for five weeks until the 26-year-old officially became a free Became agent. The sides could still make a deal later in the off-season. If it does, it probably will not be the deal, and Mike Rizzo confirmed Tuesday that his team can not afford to wait.

"We have to have an expiry date," Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday. This suggests that the relatives are ready to continue their plans without Harper, because, as one person familiar with the situation said, "they can not have $ 300 million out there dangling out for months." Indeed, need The Nationals Pitching, a catcher and an upgrade to their bank, they can not wait for Harper to make their decision – which many in the industry believe will soon be coming as the winter get-togethers in Las Vegas next month – and the market miss.

If Harper signs elsewhere, the Nationals outfield next season will be Juan Soto in the left field, Victor Robles in the middle, and Adam Eaton in the right field with former Gold Glove finalist Michael A. Taylor backing up in the middle. It costs about $ 13 million.

"I am satisfied with the alternative [to signing Harper]«Rizzo said Tuesday. "But I am not satisfied with the statement that without him we are a better team."

Whether the relatives will be without Harper remains to be seen. For the moment, it seems he and Boras are exploring options elsewhere. Although this offer from Nationals may be off the table in its current form, Boras rarely drops a high-priced team for a high-priced customer. Given the history of Harper with the Nationals, it seems unlikely that he will make a deal elsewhere without first being backtracked. At the moment, the Nationals made an offer that maintained a solid relationship with Harper, giving him what the team considered a fair market value. Boras did not argue, but one would say the Nationals would rise higher for a reasonable offer – though there is still much to see.

Important for future negotiations is that Harper's deal is not the largest in baseball history, according to the average annual value. Zack Greinke (34 million dollars), David Price (31 million dollars) and Clayton Kershaw (31 million dollars) received more. Max Scherzer received exactly $ 30 million. But no position player has ever earned an average annual value of more than $ 27.5 million (Alex Rodriguez and Yoenis Cespedes). The relatives were ready to get involved. It was not enough.

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