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May 10, 2017

In Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have committed nearly $400 million to two pitchers signed through 2021 and ‘23, respectively. They might have to spend something close to that just to keep Harper, who’s been building his case as the face of baseball since appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old in 2009, one year before the Nationals made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. While injuries have cut into his productivity at times, he has already won the NL Rookie of the Year and MVP awards while making four All-Star teams and he has become a rare lightning rod player whose comments, fashion choices and style of play alternately thrill and enrage both fans and opponents.

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