Last May, Harper and the Nats agreed to a $21.65 million deal for the 2018 season that was the largest one-year pact ever given to an arbitration-eligible player.

That’s a lot of pressure on a player whose entire professional baseball experience consists of 126 minor league games split between Class A and Class A Advanced teams in 2017. Tebow said Alderson’s prediction was nice, but he’s not thinking about anything other than what he needs to do to improve.

My goal isn’t about what’s going to happen one day, Tebow said. My goal is to focus on this day and our outfield work, my training session, getting to know all the new coaches, and working as hard as I can. I think one of the important things about being an athlete is being able to lock in and have tunnel vision because I can’t worry about one day if I’m going to play in the bigs or not.

I got into this because I love it. I’m passionate about it, and I think for me it’s being able to lock in and have tunnel vision regardless of what team I’m on wherever they decide to put me.

But when Thursday’s action tipped off, that narrative headed for the dumpster. For starters, the Purdue Boilermakers went off the rails, losing at 11-16 Wisconsin Badgers — the Boilers’ third defeat in succession. That means the Auburn Tigers are now this projection’s fourth No. 1 seed.

Note: Quality win data (the ratio in parentheses, see Jan. 26 post for more info) and RPI information are courtesy WarrenNolan.com and accurate as of the morning of Feb. 16, 2018 and only reflect games against Division I opponents.

I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019 at all, Harper said, wearing a Nats cap backward and reading prepared opening remarks from his phone. I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call [agent] Scott [Boras] and he can answer you guys. … If you guys do talk anything about that, then I’ll be walking right out the door.

The former No. 1 overall pick in 2010, Harper debuted in 2012 at the age of 19. In 2015, he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award, becoming the youngest player ever to be voted a unanimous MVP, after a season in which he hit .330 and led the NL with 42 home runs. Despite a down season in 2016, he returned to form last year and was considered an MVP front-runner before suffering a gruesome knee injury in mid-August that all but ended his regular season.

When that contract expires in November, the 25-year old superstar is widely expected to ink a historic deal as the headliner of a star-studded free-agent class that includes Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. That is, if the Nationals aren’t able to sign Harper to a long-term extension before then.

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