The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harper is a 17-year-old power-hitting catcher from the College of Southern Nevada who the Nationals intend to move to the outfield. He's the first junior college player taken with the first overall selection.
Harper gets a $6.35 million signing bonus in five equal payments of $1.25 million: 30 days after appoval and each July 1 from 2011 through 2014. He receives guaranteed salaries of $500,000 each in 2011 and 2012, $750,000 in 2013 and $1 million in 2014 and 2015. The deal also includes $1 million in possible roster bonuses that could raise the total value of the deal to $10.9 million.
Harper's deal is a record for a non-pitcher signed out of the draft who had not become a free agent.
Current New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira set the previous record for a major league deal for a position player, getting a $9.5 million, four-year deal from the Texas Rangers in 2001. Harper's deal, like Teixeira's, was negotiated by agent Scott Boras.
Harper hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs in his first season at Southern Nevada, which plays in a league that uses wooden bats. He skipped his final two years of high school and got his GED, making him eligible for the 2010 amateur draft.
He already has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16, touted as "baseball's chosen one" and "the most exciting prodigy since LeBron." He was the first non-senior to earn Baseball America's High School Player of the Year award. And he was only the second junior college player, joining Alex Fernandez in 1990, to win the Golden Spikes Award, given to the country's top amateur baseball player.
Harper is the Nationals' second consecutive No. 1 overall pick. Their 2009 selection, Stephen Strasburg, a right-handed pitcher from San Diego State, agreed to a record-breaking $15.1 million, four-year contract last August. He also is a Boras client. Harper joined the Nats earlier this season and is 5-3 with a 2.97 ERA, although he recently spent time on the disabled list with an inflamed shoulder.
Earlier Monday evening, the Nationals announced they came to terms with second-round choice Sammy Solis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of San Diego, and fourth-round pick A.J. Cole, a right-handed high school pitcher.