Scott Boras described the Washington Nationals’ rumored 10-year/$300M offer to Bryce Harper at the end of the regular season as an “olive branch”, explaining to NY Post writer Joel Sherman at the GM Meetings that teams make, “... olive-branch offers to let you know of great interest in the player and wanting to define a continued relationship with the player.”
How would Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo characterize the offer?
Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday that it was, “... a really good, aggressive market value offer,” though he declined to get into or confirm the details of the offer the Nationals made to the now-26-year-old, 2010 No. 1 overall pick, who is testing free agency now after growing up in the nation’s capital over seven major league seasons.
So has the GM who oversaw Harper’s selection and development ruled out the possibility that the outfielder sees what’s out there but returns to D.C. in 2019?
“No,” Rizzo said. “I’d never close the door on that. We made him a really good, aggressive market value offer.
Baseball execs are baseball fans at heart, and they wonder, too, about where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign. Most common guesses -- informed speculation -- that I've heard from folks within the game: Machado to the Phillies, Harper back to the Nationals.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 29, 2018
“They rejected it. They went into free agency. We’re going into free agency, we’ve got things on our wish list that we need to get, but we certainly aren’t shutting the door on bringing him back.”
Rizzo also declined to say if the offer to Harper was a starting point for negotiations or the best deal he’s going to get from the Nationals, who have contingency plans for moving on with or without Harper in the outfield.
“We’re certainly not going to discuss over the air what our negotiating posture is and what our strategy is and that type of thing,” Rizzo explained.
“It was an offer, it was an offer out of respect to one of our hallmark players that I’ve know since he was 16 years old. It was driven and given by ownership directly to him.
“We’ve met with ownership several times with Harp and made an aggressive, market-value, respectful offer and wanted to treat him with the respect and — just the way we felt about him for so many years, we wanted to make it respectful and above board, and I thought we did that.”
As for any concerns about the Nationals waiting for Harper to make a decision and missing out on other options this winter? Rizzo didn’t seem too concerned.
“The free agent market place specifically is very fluid,” he said. “If somebody takes your offer it changes the landscape. If you make a trade and are taking on a lucrative contract the landscape could change. What we’ve put into place here is we have given ourselves options. We did the same thing when Ian Desmond was on the verge of becoming a free agent. You try to be prepared for all these scenarios.
“The development of [Juan] Soto and [Victor] Robles, having Michael [A.] Taylor as the defensive Gold Glove-caliber guy that he is and dynamic player at times that he is and getting a terrific player like Adam Eaton a couple years back gave us an opportunity to play with or without Harper and I think that was our strategy back then because you can never — these players, they earn the right to become a free agent. It’s not easy to play six years in the big leagues and get six years of service time and to be open to all the clubs in the big leagues to get your next job, so we respect that but you have to plan for it and I thought we had a great strategy going back a couple years to foresee these things which is my job and you hear me talking about the one, three, and five-year plans that we always have in my mind, and I thought that we put ourselves in a good position to compete with or without Harp.”