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Washington Nationals fans should enjoy Bryce Harper while they've got him

"I've got three years to play. I've got three years to do everything I can to play this game." -- Bryce Harper, Feb. 22, 2016

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Don't know if you've heard yet or not, but Bryce Harper said today from spring training that he's definitely, unequivocally, without a doubt leaving the Washington Nationals as a free agent when his contract expires in three years.

Well, not really. But there will be those that interpret his comments in that fashion.

What Harper actually said was all he's thinking about right now is pulling on his uniform with the "Curly W" this season, and the next two, and trying to win as many ballgames as he and his teammates can.

"I just want to win," Harper told the gathered media at spring training. "I don't care about accolades or numbers or anything like that. I just want to win ballgames and do everything we can to get to the next level, and I know if I can stay healthy and do everything I can to help this team win, then we'll be fine."

"I'm a National and that's what I want to be right now." -Bryce Harper, Feb. 22, 2016

"I'm a National and that's what I want to be right now," the reigning N.L. MVP continued. "I have the 'W' on my chest for the next three years. Very humbled to put the 'W' on my chest every single day. I love the nation's capital. I love D.C. I'm getting chills just thinking about it right now. It's such a monumental town, beautiful town and I look forward to playing there every single day for the next three years and that's what's on my mind right now."

He's saying the right things about the city, and about his desire to win. I don't think anyone can question his intentions or motivations in those areas.

Realistically, though, his contract situation is a subject that is on a lot of people's minds. Every year, some player signs a contract that seems impossible to believe. This offseason, both David Price and Zach Greinke signed free agent contracts in excess of $200 million. Giancarlo Stanton's deal to re-up with the Marlins was $325 million. An aging Miguel Cabrera commanded $248 million.

So, if Harper can duplicate, replicate or reasonably facsimilate his 2015 season for the next three? What could he possible command on the free agent market? And what would he be worth to the Nationals to keep in D.C.?

$400 million? $500 million? More? Harper said, don't sell him short.

"You can't put limits on players," Harper said. "You can't put limits on what they do if that's on the field, off the field with everything they do. It's just something that, everybody says everything like, 'The sky is the limit,' but we've been on the moon. So, you can't really tell me that. It's just a big thing about putting limits on guys and doing everything they can to put it in the media and things."

"I just want to go out there and play the game I can and play it hard and enjoy the game of baseball."

"Everybody says... 'The sky is the limit,' but we've been on the moon." -Bryce Harper, Feb. 22, 2016

This is the second time in a matter of weeks he's told media folks not to put limits on him. When asked about becoming the first $400 million player in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen, Harper said:

"Yeah, I mean I don't really think about that stuff. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win. But don't sell me short. That's what you're doing right now to me, so don't do that.

"I'm looking forward to just playing this year, just looking forward to playing the next couple years. And I think all that stuff will play out."

But of course he thinks about it. We are all thinking about it.

So what's the bottom line? Well, for starters, enjoy the next three seasons and try not to worry about what might happen in the future. Not to get all metaphysical on you, but the future isn't guaranteed to any of us.

Too much of our time in the sporting landscape is spent looking to the future. I get it. It's human nature to look forward and envision a better tomorrow. But the Nats have it pretty good right now, even if they come up short for the sport's ultimate prize.

Even last season, one that was mired in disappointment and ultimate embarrassment, there were some pretty great things to watch if you didn't allow yourself to get bogged down in the distractions.

Bryce Harper is one of the two or three best players in baseball right now. The next three seasons of his prime, health allowing, should be history in the making. Nats fans should take satisfaction in watching him play the next three seasons in their hometown, and not worrying about if he may leave once he's eligible.

You'd be selling yourself short, and Harper himself doesn't think that's a good idea.