We'll have plenty more on the Nationals' signing of Bryce Harper throughout the day, but here are some of my thoughts on the deal, as they come to me:
-Stan Kasten said that the deal looked different than either side thought it would, and I'm guessing that means Harper got less bonus money to land a major league deal. The $9.9 million overall figure has some symbolic weight; it keeps the biggest package ever given to a position player under $10 million and makes it so the Nationals aren't the first team to give two players $10 million - or the first team to give a pitcher $15 million and a position player $10 million.
A source close to Harper told MASNsports.com's Byron Kerr that the two sides had been in the neighborhood of $10 million since the afternoon, so if Harper had taken a minor league deal, he probably would have made all of that in bonus money. But the big league deal came into play, and because of that, the Nationals got to defer some of Harper's compensation in exchange for putting him on the 40-man roster.
-The 40-man spot, which will have to be cleared for Harper when the deal is official, doesn't mean a whole lot because it seems clear the Nationals expect Harper will be in the majors far sooner than he runs out of option years.
Jason Heyward, who was drafted in 2007, was up at the start of this year. If Harper follows that path, he'd be in Washington by 2013. And if he moves that quick, the Nationals will start to reap some cost savings: almost two-thirds of the financial commitment to Harper in this contract will be over by the time they pay his bonus check. He'll earn $3.65 million in base salary the next five years. Say he moves quick and three of those are in the majors. In that time, his average salary would only be a shade over the major league minimum. And if the Nationals are considering sending Harper to the Arizona Fall League already - they expect him to move quick.
-The talk about the deal taking until the final seconds is a little hard to believe, since the two sides had roughly settled on overall compensation by the afternoon. At the very least, the untold details that got done in the final seconds wouldn't seem big enough to derail the contract. But I'm not in the room, and frankly, I'm puzzled by the logic of how these things work, with advisor Scott Boras making deals with a handful of teams all trying to sign his players at the deadline.
Most people in baseball expected Harper to sign, and Kasten even said he sensed a willingness from Boras not to go down to the deadline. But nonetheless, the deal is done - and the beat-the-clock aspect of it makes for a good story, if nothing else.
More in a little bit.