The 25-year-old Harper, entering his final season of arbitration eligibility, is set to become one of the most sought-after free agents in baseball history next winter unless he and the Nationals agree to a new deal with the slugger.
Agent Scott Boras talked to reporters at baseball's annual winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Wednesday about the early discussions and whether there will be Harper sweepstakes bidding next year.
"We had a meeting with the Washington ownership about a month ago, just for some preliminary discussions," Boras said. "Other than that, it's probably something that we'll address as time goes forward."
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday there is strong interest to keep Harper in the nation's capital.
"We're not going to discuss what we're going to do with Harp other than that we love having (him) in the organization and we're the team that drafted him, developed him, and he's performed greatly for us," Rizzo said, per ESPN. "But we're going to keep all those discussions internal."
Harper, who was selected first overall by Washington in the 2010 draft, was named the National League's Rookie of the Year in 2012 and three years later unanimously won the NL Most Valuable Player award. In the MVP season in 2015, he hit .330 with 42 home runs and 99 RBIs, and led the majors with a 1.109 OPS.
Harper slumped in 2016, hitting just .243 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs and then rebounded last season before suffering a severe knee injury in mid-August that sidelined him for six weeks. The right fielder finished 2017 with a .319 average, 29 homers and 87 RBIs in just 111 games.
As a free agent who will turn 26 in October, Harper likely would challenge the current record for the largest contract in baseball history that belongs to Giancarlo Stanton, who in 2014 signed a 13-year, $325 million extension with the Miami Marlins. The 28-year-old Stanton signed off on a blockbuster trade to the New York Yankees that became official on Monday.
Boras was asked about the possibility of Harper agreeing to an extension with the Nationals prior to the start of the 2018 season.
"That's up to ownership," Boras said. "So we'll have to look at it and report back to Bryce.
"I frankly view it as a very simple process. Look, when you have iconic players, they're different. They're different because you're not paying for a performance value. You're acquiring the right to someone that generates revenue above what you pay him, apart from his performance. That iconic value is something that attaches to very few players in baseball. It has to a few in the past. But it's certainly something that travels with Bryce."