MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Harper open to contract talks with Rizzo, Nats

Harper open to contract talks with Rizzo, Nats

WASHINGTON -- A few hours after being named the 2015 Baseball Writers' Association of America National League MVP Award winner, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper indicated that he would welcome talks about a contract extension.

Harper, 23, isn't a free agent until after the 2018 season, but he mentioned that he would like to be a member of the Nationals for the rest of his career. Harper's agent is Scott Boras, who has dealt with the Nationals' front office often.

"I'm definitely excited to be part of the Nationals organization," said Harper on Thursday night. "I think that being able to play in [Nationals Park], this city, this town, around the fans, it's such a great place to play. Baseball is up and coming. … I'm very excited to further my career with the Nationals. I have a couple of more years in D.C., and then hopefully at the end of that, we can do what we can and I can be a National for life, hopefully."

Harper was speaking after he became the first player in franchise history to win the NL MVP Award following a 2015 season in which Harper hit .330, led the NL in home runs (42, tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado), runs scored (118), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.649).

Harper wins 2015 NL MVP

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" Friday morning to talk about Harper and the club as a whole.

Rizzo, whose club selected Harper No. 1 overall in the 2010 Draft, said he was extremely proud of the all-around player Harper has become.

Rizzo was asked generically about how an organization assesses whether a player is worthy of the kind of contract that Harper's age and productivity may command on the open market, a contract that would not only impact a substantial amount of payroll space, but also make the player the face of franchise and someone who may or may not also have a say in the organization's direction.

"I think the most important part is, you've got to sign the right guy," Rizzo said. "He's got to have the attitude and the right character, he's got to be the type of person who can handle that big of a load of expectations, [handling] the money is always an issue, and handle the power of being the face of the franchise.

"I think lesson one is getting the right guy, have it be the right type of person you want, someone who will handle the mantel of that big enormous contract and the enormous expectations that come with it, and pick the right character guy to do it."

In four seasons with the Nationals, Harper, the BBWAA NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2012, has hit .289 with 97 home runs, 248 RBIs and 328 runs scored over 510 games, with an OPS of .902.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.