Bryon Kerr of MasnSports.com reported yesterday that Bryce Harper's college coach, Tim Chambers, is confident that the number one overall pick will sign with the Washington Nationals and not return to school. Chambers said:
"In my opinion, Bryce is the greatest amateur player ever to play baseball, and I am talking Mickey Mantle and others," Chambers said. "He won the Golden Spikes Award. He achieved all of his goals. What else can he do? ... No other human being in baseball could leave high school his sophomore year and do what he did."
Kerr also mentioned in the article that Chambers had said Harper had bulked up from his 208 pound playing weight at College of Southern Nevada to a more professional weight of 225. He also mentioned that Harper is "begging to play."
The Nationals have until midnight Monday to sign the 17-year-old phenom who hit .443/.546/.987 with 31 homers and 28 doubles in just 228 at bats in his first college season. The deal is expected to go down to the wire, just as it did with Strasburg last season.
The Nationals certainly want to get this done, I'm not sure there is any question about that. However the problem that remains with signing Harper is that he has such incredible leverage. At only 17, Harper can go back to college and still re-enter next season as just an 18-year-old with an extra year of college under his belt. Considering the slugger hit .443 in his first season, one would think he would do just as well, if not better next year.
Another aspect which hurts the possibility of this deal getting done is the widely perceived arrogant attitude of Harper. Last season when the negotiations came down to the last minute, Strasburg informed super-agent Scott Boras that he wished to get as much money as possible, but he also wanted to sign. Because of this, the two sides were able to compromise and reach a last minute deal. Will Harper be willing to make such a concession? Or will he have the brash 17-year-old "I'll show them...I'll show the world," mentality and bolt?
We'll see Monday night, and you can tune in here at The Nats Blog to get a live play by play of the action.