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Harper credits Desmond and Werth as mentors

Nov 20, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT


Though Bryce Harper recently turned 23 years old, he is just months away from beginning his fifth season in the major leagues. That may be hard to believe for many of us, as it was not long ago that the now-MVP was taken first overall by the Nationals in the 2010 MLB Draft. Through four years, Harper has blossomed into one of the game’s best players, a young superstar who could someday end up as one of baseball’s immortal legends.

Part of Harper’s development has included mentorship from older players. It was not until this season did he finally play with a teammate younger than him. Throughout his career he has had the benefit of learning from proven veteran ballplayers, some who have had won World Series rings and many who have enjoyed success throughout long MLB careers.

After winning his MVP award on Thursday night, Harper singled out two veterans in particular as players who helped show him the way as a young player.

“I can’t thank Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth enough for what they did for me this year and in years past,” Harper said.

Both Desmond and Werth have been with the Nationals since Harper made his debut in 2012. Desmond has played for the Nats for his entire seven-year career, but this offseason is expected to sign with another club as a free agent.

“I respect Desi more than anybody. This guy is somebody that I truly look up to as a person. I can’t thank him enough for everything he did for me this year,” Harper explained.

“I know this guy is not in our clubhouse at this moment, but the way he takes the game so serious. Doing everything I can on a daily basis to have fun and just enjoy it when I play. He’s just a great teammate. He’s such a great person on and off the field. He’s got a great family. I just enjoy being around him. I enjoy playing side-by-side with him every single night. At the end of the day, if you’re 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, you’ve got to have that same mentality every single day.”

Werth joined the Nationals before the 2011 season and has played alongside Harper in the outfield. He has been through just about everything in the game of baseball.

“Jayson Werth, he’s like a brother to me. He’s definitely family,” Harper said. “I can’t thank him enough for taking me under his wing at age 19 and doing everything he could. He’s somebody that I really love playing with. I’m definitely excited to be playing with him next year and play with him for the next couple years. He’s taught me so much: how to approach the game, how to win ballgames, how to play in the postseason, how to do it the right way every single day. The guy has been around the game for a long, long time.

“I can’t thank him enough for everything he does. If that’s taking me out to dinner, if that’s hanging out with me in the clubhouse or showing me what a pitcher is doing and their tendencies, it’s all around the game. Inside and out. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Harper thanked many people on Thursday night, but it’s clear he has a special admiration for Desmond and Werth, who each played a role in helping him become the player and man he is today.

  1. ehay2k - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    Will be interesting to see what happens to the Clubhouse chemistry when some or all of the FA players leave.

    And, onlly 4 more to go until Northwestern assumes their rightful place at the bottom:

    Mark, please put up a countdown to ST. Thanks.

    • ArVAFan - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      Usually Mark puts up a countdown to Pitchers and Catchers once that date is officially announced (which it hasn’t been, but I calculated Feb. 19). That’s better than a countdown to the Spring Training games because, well, it’s a smaller number!

  2. rabbit433 - Nov 20, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    It seems to me that Harper could have be the mentor to both Desmond and Werth!

    • jfmii - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:12 AM


      • natsguy - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        First time I have ever agreed with you jfmii.

    • letsallbaseball - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM

      rabbit443, PhD

  3. akiterp - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    And Jason and Ian also taught him “show me the money” … it will be hard and/or very expensive to keep him in a couple of years. Then again, big bright stars can sometimes fade just as fast. Wonder if he can keep this up for 5 years … 10 years … will he still be at it at 40

    • Steady Eddie - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:04 AM

      Jayson and Ian did NOT teach Bryce “show me the money”. He already had that lesson down cold when he signed with Boras as his agent before he was even drafted.

      Which is why he’s essentially saying “we’ll look at an extension at the end of my walk year.” With Boras as his agent, I would be astonished if he extended with the Nats before then — I would think the most he would do before then is sign a deal for the remaining arbitration years. Barring major and debilitating injury, he’s going to sign a record-smashing deal for some of his FA years, and Boras’ MO is to wait until the end to maximize market value.

      The only thing that’s unclear is whether at that point he signs for absolute top dollar irrespective of team/owner/city, or goes for the more or less average market value that the other top three or four teams would pay. I suspect he’ll sign with the Nats if they can be within the latter group — because he’s seen how mindlessly vicious and bloodthirsty the New York media can be, e.g., what they just did to Harvey. Even that deal would (along with endorsements etc.) make him richer as a player than any athlete in history; I don’t see him as insisting on the absolute top dollar at the expense of being on a regularly contending team and in a city and franchise where he feels comfortable.

      So part of “regularly contending” will also depend on what the Nats as a team do the next three seasons.

      • jd - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:10 AM


        Harper is scheduled to make $7.5 mil in 2016 and lets say $30 mil for the last 2 arb years. If you replace the $37 mil with say $105 mil as part of a 10 year $350 mil deal you don’t think he’l listen?

      • Steady Eddie - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:56 AM


        I think Boras’ approach–especially with a generational talent like Bryce–is to think that 1) his market value will only go up every year for the next three, and 2) that the overall top player/top dollar MLB market will also go up over the next three years (the way e.g. Scherzer’s deal raised the top of the market for FA pitchers). So why should he even consider a deal based on where Bryce’s value and the top of the market are today when Bryce isn’t a FA for three more years? Let his own performance and other players’ record-breaking deals raise the top of the market in the meantime.

        So, no, I don’t think Boras will be interested in an extension deal for Bryce this offseason, regardless of the dollars offered. His basis is, why should we take a deal based on top dollar today when we have no idea how high the top of the market is going to be three years from now?

        I could be wrong, of course — I have no basis other than what I observe — but all the public signals and his MO suggest he will wait.

        Obviously, that has a risk of some major injury to Bryce in the meantime that affects his earning prospects and capabilities for years going forward, but I would have to assume that Boras thinks that after the previous seasons, Bryce values and knows how to take care of himself — especially as his previous major injuries have been largely in his own control (running into walls and sliding hands first).

  4. jd - Nov 20, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    The going rate for superstars today is $30 mil AAV (Stanton). You figure that Harper is better than Stanton and is 3 years away. I think his AAV should be about $35 mil. The trick to getting him signed earlier than his free agent year is to pay him this kind of money now. I think 10 x 35 starting right now might just do the trick and the beuty of it is that at the end of the deal he’l only be 32.

    If you put that in front of Harper and Boras and they decline then they are risking that Harper can stay healthy and maintain his excellence throughout and they would also be leaving about $75 mil on the table in the hope that they can get something like $40 mil AAv in 3 years. Unless Harper is dead set on playing for the Yankees I think you can get a deal done.

    • raleighnat - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:26 AM

      I agree that a deal could be done with Boras. But not if you expect a discount. Interestingly, Bryce is pretty unique in that he could command something like $350MM and actually exceed that value to the organization financially.

      • jd - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:45 AM

        Forget discount. You are not getting a discount. Our advantage is that we are the only team able to pay him the big bucks right now wheras everyone else has to wait for his free agent year.

  5. akiterp - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    jd … you think they may look for 15 years given his age

    • jd - Nov 20, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      They may. The only way he signs something that long is with several opt out options.

  6. npb99 - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:26 AM

    No mention (at least in this article) of any thanks to RZ. I didn’t expect it, as based on various stories they don’t seem to be the greatest pals.

    • Section 222 - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      I noticed that omission too, but I wasn’t aware of any stories that they aren’t the greatest pals. Do you have some links?

      • npb99 - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:53 PM

        Finally back online. There was a story from I think 2014 where they did some subtle sniping at each other. In response to something Harper said, RZ said you don’t have to be a rah-rah guy (i.e. Extroverted and noisy) to be a leader. At that time Harper kept talking about the leaders on the club, specifically Desi and JW, and didn’t seem to include RZ.
        It seemed partly this was a personality issue, as they seem like opposites. But in 2015 I don’t recall those stories as much.

    • k286 - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:56 AM

      In one of the interviews he did with the local media last night, he mentioned Desi and Werth, plus RZ and Thornton as veterans who really helped him. I’ve heard him thank RZ a few times during award season. So while Desi and Werth have gotten the most credit (which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone), he did give ample credit to RZ too.

      I obviously have no idea what the relationship is between Harp and RZ, but they are completely different personalities. I don’t think they are the best of pals, but I don’t get the impression that they don’t get along either.

      • Steady Eddie - Nov 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

        That sounds like a good way of stating it. I haven’t heard or seen anything to even hint that there’s anything negative there. I suspect it’s more a matter of RZ always being a quieter guy who keeps a little more to himself both as a matter of his personality and the burden he carries about his mom’s condition. And as you wrote, just very different personalities. In sure we can all see that kind of things in our own co-workers.

    • letsallbaseball - Nov 20, 2015 at 1:01 PM

      I can’t stand when people say things like this with no mention of what the “various stories” are. If these stories are so varied surely you could share one?

      • unkyd59 - Nov 20, 2015 at 7:15 PM

        Plus a million!

      • Dave - Nov 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM

        I quite agree with letsallbaseball. Anything short of a specific citation looks like you’re just making stuff up.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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