With the Nationals signing of Jayson Werth this week, the focus on 2012 becomes even more exciting for Nats fans with the prospect of a healthy Stephen Strasburg paired with Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and say, even Bryce Harper?
That is what Bryce is hoping for. He talked about making his debut in 2012 with Strasburg to MLB Network during the Arizona Fall League championship.
But a more realistic debut for Harper would be 2013, according to Jim Callis, executive editor for Baseball America.
"If you are contending it is one thing," Callis said. "Scott Boras is his agent. How many of Scott Boras' guys sign contract then give up free agency? Almost all his guys test free agency. You are going to have him for six years. At the end of six years, he is pretty much playing for whoever is going to pay him the most money. That is the way it is. Nothing against Scott, but generally if a player chooses Scott, he is in it to maximize every penny he earns."
It makes sense for the Nats to wait until Bryce is completely ready to play in the majors and would pace his free agency clock to maximize his time in a Nats uniform.
Even though Nats fan would salivate at the possibility of seeing Harper and Werth in the same outfield at the same time in 2012, it is more likely to happen in 2013.
"As good as he is, I would be stunned if Harper was in the Nationals Opening Day lineup in 2012," states Callis. "Unless the franchise is in huge financial peril and they needed to draw people. I think the earliest you would see Bryce up is mid-2012. Even Opening Day 2013 would be very aggressive."
But we are talking amazing here with Harper, many prognosticators didn't think he would play in Arizona, and he did. So why not 2012? Callis says it could still happen.
"He keeps exceeding expectations," Callis said. "I think the earliest you would see him is mid-2012. I think a much more realistic situation for me would be mid-2013 when he is only 20 years old. It probably will be in between. I would bet on him tearing it up in the minors and going through the minors in two years. Imagine what the hype would be if he has torn up the minors for two years and then they try to send him down on Opening Day? I think Opening Day 2013 would probably be the most realistic."
Callis believes starting in Hagerstown in 2011 is the smart move for Bryce for the long term.
"It makes so much sense (to start there)," assures Callis. "I can understand you want to accelerate guys at some point. You can always move him up. It is not locked in. I don't think he is going to struggle. Then again, I don't think he is going to hit .400, but even if Bryce Harper hits .400 and hits 12 homers in the first six weeks of the season then you just move him up."
Harper in Hagerstown is the best bet for all involved and could actually help him get to Nats town sooner than later.
"That is a lot better than sending him to High-A and then he hits .220 with a bunch of strikeouts and you are stuck," Callis said. "Do you keep him at Potomac or send him down and then he feels like he failed. I think they will be really smart with him."