Bryce Harper could file grievance with Nationals

Christian Petersen

Harper and the Nationals could be headed for a grievance hearing next winter if they don't grant him arbitration eligibility.

An unusual discrepancy in Bryce Harper's contract could lead to a legal dispute between the star outfielder and the Washington Nationals after the 2014 season, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. The end result could be that the 21-year-old becomes eligible for arbitration next winter.

Harper's current deal dictates that he is to receive a $1.5 million salary in 2015. When he was drafted in 2010, the Nationals insisted on excluding a standard clause that allows the player to opt-out of his contract when he becomes eligible for arbitration; his agent, Scott Boras, wanted the clause to be included. Although no agreement was reached on the matter, Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed that, if the issue became material during the life of the contract, it would be settled by a grievance hearing.

Fast forward to present day, and Harper has accrued enough service time that he is likely to be a Super Two player next winter and thus eligible for arbitration. Therefore, the disagreement will have to be settled. The two sides could also theoretically end the dispute by agreeing to a new contract that takes Harper through one or more of his arbitration years, although Boras has been historically reluctant to sacrifice arbitration eligibility for his top clients. Kilgore estimates that Harper could be in line for an arbitration payday between $4 and $7 million if he becomes eligible next winter.

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