FRSBaseball’s Robert Murray wrote Monday about three texts he received from an unnamed NL executive who shared his thoughts on 25-year-old Washington Nationals’ slugger Bryce Harper’s value as the 2010 No. 1 overall pick gets closer to becoming a free agent at the end of the 2018 campaign.
In response to an article in which Murray asked if Harper is overrated, the executive said he thought Harper is, in fact, “... simply overrated.”
“The good ain’t worth the bad. He’s a losing player. Cares about himself more than the team. If I was in charge and had money, my team would not pursue him. We would use that money to sign 2-3 winning players.”
He wasn’t done. The second of three texts he sent reiterated his thoughts from the first a bit more succinctly, and in a third, the executive wrote that, “... if [Harper] gets more than 10-years, $300 million, I’d be surprised. I would not give him 10 years period and certainly not at that AAV. He’s just not worth it. He’s a selfish, losing player.”
Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was not amused. Not at all.
Rizzo addressed the comments, and his own offered thoughts on Harper’s value before the first of two with the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
“First of all, the premise is entirely wrong,” Rizzo said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo.
“Bryce Harper is a winner. He’s been a winner his whole life. He’s been a Rookie of the year, five-time All-Star, an MVP. He’s won more games since he’s been called up to the big leagues than any player in the major leagues. So how is that a loser?... “
Rizzo went on to talk about Harper’s presence in the dugout and clubhouse, and his off-field contributions to the D.C. community, before adding that, “... these anonymous quotes from these unnamed sources like a National League executive, it’s cowardly, it’s chicken s***, and it’s gutless.”
Davey Martinez was asked before Tuesday’s game about how Harper is handling it all, with free agency looming and an up and down first few months that left him with an NL-best 18 home runs and a .228/.360/.509 line.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about it,” Martinez said. “I know one thing about Bryce: He wants to win. I mean, he wants to win here. He goes out on the field and plays to win every day and tries to help the Nationals win. I love the kid, I really do. He’s got a big heart. He just wants to do good every day, and as far as I’m concerned, we love him as a National.
“We want him as a National, and that’s all I can think about.”
Does Martinez offer advice on how to handle it all in the conversations he has with Harper?
“It’s more like, ‘Hey, let’s focus on the here and now, and then everything else is going to take care of itself.’ He gets it. He really does. Like I said, he’s a great kid, and playing well.
“Everybody talks about his average being low, but his [slugging percentage] and everything else, he’s doing well. The other day I put him in center field, and he did really well. The kid’s an athlete and a really good one.”
Once the game started, Harper added to his National League-leading walk total in his first two trips to the plate against Yankees’ lefty CC Sabathia, who hit Harper with 90mph first-pitch sinker to his left elbow the third time up.
Reliever Dellin Betances then hit Harper on the big toe of his left foot in the top of the eighth.
Harper made his way toward first base, gingerly, then stopped, and headed straight back to the dugout and was done for the night.
Martinez and the outfielder said he would be fine when they spoke to reporters after the 3-0 loss to the Yankees.
“He’s fine,” Martinez said. “He took one on the big toe, and they checked him out and he just came in my office and said he was good.”
“I feel fine,” Harper said. “Elbow feels okay, and big toe just hurts a little bit.”
Did the team doctors check it out?
“I already got an X-ray on my toe, I’m fine,” Harper reiterated.
“It just hurt. So, tried to walk down the first base line, and just there was no point.”
“He got hit square,” Martinez said, “... and it just kind of went numb on him right away, so he said it hurt, and of course it hurt, but precautionary you know, but he said he’s good.”
Will Harper be in the lineup tonight? “Yeah, he’s in there,” Martinez said.