Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals reach $21.6 million deal for 2018 season

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper smiles in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper smiles in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday

Nationals outfielder and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper is back to producing at an exceptionally high level after a somewhat disappointing campaign past year.

This season, he is hitting.372 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in 31 games for the team with the best record in the National League.

Harper can still be a free agent after the 2018 season, but agreeing to this contract early shows that the sides are talking.

When asked by Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post if he and the Nationals discussed about a deal beyond 2018, Harper said that he "doesn't like to talk past then".

So that's a guaranteed payday of more than $20 million for an arbitration-eligible player.

Harper has been a major catalyst for the Nationals throughout his tenure in the big leagues, so Washington chose to reward him for all his efforts with the biggest contract for an arbitration-eligible player in history.

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After a down year in 2016, Harper is mashing so far to start the 2017 season.

General manager Mike Rizzo announced the deal Saturday but did not disclose terms.

Harper will get $21.65 million for 2018, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports.

Harper's deal also includes a $1m bonus if the four-time All-Star is named National League (NL) MVP in 2018.

Added Rizzo: "We have a great relationship with Harp. He's our own. Drafted, developed, signed, been an MVP for us".