Bryce Harper is at the center of baseball's wildest free-agent sweepstakes in a generation. With the market for his services heating up as the winter meetings begin in his hometown of Las Vegas, Harper's agent is pulling out all the stops to land the outfielder a record contract.
Scott Boras told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he's authored a 118-page tome on all things Harper and is distributing it to every team he meets with this offseason.
Among the subjects tackled in the handbook, Nightengale reports, is a business comparison between the 2015 NL MVP and arguably the most famous athlete on the planet: LeBron James.
Harper and James followed similar paths to superstardom. Both are former first overall picks in their respective sports and both made the cover of "Sports Illustrated" as 16-year-olds; the venerable magazine even called Harper "Baseball's LeBron." Both have since lived up to the hype of their teenage years.
"My goal in this thing is to let teams know what they're getting, (and) that's why we brought in the LeBron comparisons," Boras explained. "A lot of people don't know what he's done by the age of 25, and how that compares to what LeBron James did at 25. You get a very clear path on how hard it is to achieve a standard of excellence in an arena where you're both No. 1 picks, both rookies of (the) year, both MVPs, and set a standard that no one can meet."
"Every GM in baseball wants him because he fills a need," Boras added. "But the owners are pursuing Bryce Harper because they know he can also make them a billion dollars over a period of years."
The handbook - which also contrasts Harper's statistics to many of his star peers and even some iconic players including Barry Bonds - is being given to teams at the end of their meetings with Harper, which have reportedly lasted five to 10 hours.
The market for Harper is robust and features many big-market teams battling for his services. He's already reported to have met with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies, with several more clubs expected to follow in the coming days.
The exact list of teams isn't known and is apparently being kept under wraps; Boras told Nightengale one unnamed general manager was unaware of his team owner's involvement.
One club that looks to be out of the running is the Washington Nationals, Harper's employers for the last seven years. Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said Friday he's expecting the 26-year-old will sign elsewhere.