So what’s the latest news on Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals’ attempts to get the 26-year-old free agent back in the nation’s capital on a long-term deal?
“Bryce is a free agent,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re in contact with him and his reps. He knows where we stand, he knows how we feel about him, and I think that things should take care of themselves.”
Rizzo was asked if he has any plans to meet with Harper, the Nationals’ 2010 No. 1 overall pick, who’s testing the free agent market following his seventh season in D.C., when they get to the outfielder’s hometown of Las Vegas later this month for the Winter Meetings?
“We always have business with that agency, so I’m sure we’ll sit down and meet with them,” Rizzo said.
“We meet with just about every agent over there at the Winter Meetings and I don’t think this year will be any different.”
Is there any timeline from Harper or his agent, Scott Boras, as to how quickly the outfielder wants to get a deal done?
“They haven’t showed their hand either way about what their timeline is,” Rizzo explained. “I think their timeline is when they get the deal that they feel comfortable with they’re going to move and I don’t think there is any urgency on their part and when they get something that they like they’ll probably act on it.”
As he’s said before, and as evidenced by the fact that they’ve already acquired reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami, signed reliever Trevor Rosenthal and catcher Kurt Suzuki, and now traded for Yan Gomes, Rizzo and the Nationals aren’t just sitting around waiting for Harper to make his mind up on where he’ll sign.
“We go into the offseason with a checklist every year. We’ve checked a few things off so far,” Rizzo said, “but we’re far from finished. I think that the Bryce situation and fulfilling some of the other things that we’re trying to do are independent of one another, we’ve always been an organization that ownership has given us the resources to do what we need to do to build a championship-caliber club, and I don’t see that changing.”
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez and Harper bonded during their first season together, but the skipper said he hasn’t talked to the outfielder recently.
“Bryce went into shutdown mode,” Martinez said.
“But you know he’s got big decisions to make. We’ve got a good relationship together, but I understand. I’ve been there before. Being a free agent. I know what to do. But he’s got big decisions to make.”
Is he preparing for life without Harper, or holding out hope that the outfielder will end up back in D.C.?
“We’ll see what happens,” Martinez said.
“I’m not sold on anything. Free agency is free agency. I mean, there’s 30 other teams that he can talk to right now, 29 other teams and us, but we’ll see what happens.”
How often is he asked about what’s going on with Harper?
“A lot,” Martinez laughed. “Like I said, I’ve got no answers. He’s got big decisions to make. Big decisions.”