Bryce Harper wasn’t sure what would happen at the non-waiver deadline, though he said he was happy to learn he’d be staying in Washington when Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo called and told him the night before the July 31st non-waiver deadline that he should ignore the rumors saying he would be dealt.
“I think whenever you hear your name or see your name on stuff, you always wonder,” Harper admitted once the deadline passed last month.
“But I think that’s the business side of the game. It’s part of the game. Other teams are trying to get better, and it’s just something that came up.
“Rizzo reassured me earlier yesterday that I wasn’t going anywhere, so I was very happy about that and glad I’m still inside this clubhouse.”
“It had to be a spectacular set of circumstances for us to move a player of Bryce Harper’s ability level,” GM Mike Rizzo said, “and we didn’t get any that met those qualifications.”
Harper was claimed on waivers earlier this month, by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but no deal was worked out, with Rizzo telling 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies it seemed LA made the claim to block other teams from trying to get the outfielder.
“It seemed like it. We didn’t have any meaningful discussions about anything, so it looked like it was just a block,” Rizzo explained.
“I didn’t think I was going to leave at all, or move at all,” Harper said after the second chance to deal him passed without a trade.
“I think I’m part of this organization, I’ve been part of this organization for seven years and I look forward to coming and doing my job every single day and I had no fear of being traded or let go on waivers or anything like that.”
Harper’s staying in D.C. for the rest of the season. But will he still be part of the organization in 2019?
Harper is, of course, likely headed for the free agent market this winter, at 26 years of age, unless he and the Nationals agree on a long-term deal before then.
Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga argued in a column earlier this week that the time is now to get something done while the Nationals are the only team that can negotiate with the outfielder.
While the Nats could go forward with an outfield featuring Adam Eaton, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, and Michael A. Taylor next season, and spend the money that would go to Harper on their other needs, like a, “a catcher, a second baseman, starting pitching, and bullpen help,” Svrluga argued, “... it’s also ignoring what’s right in front of them: an iconic player.”
“That’s what Harper is. Pick him apart, and concentrate on what he hasn’t done rather than what he has. Whatever. When we look back at this decade, the 2010s, Harper will be a point of discussion, for sure.”
While acknowledging it was to be a “two-way street”, and Harper will have to want to sign on to stay in the nation’s capital, as another one of Scott Boras’ client, Stephen Strasburg did, signing in the summer before he hit free agency, Svrluga’s take was that he believes, Harper, “... would be thrilled to do just that.” His suggested pitch?
An offer for less overall money than the current high-mark for a major leaguer (Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year/$325M deal) but with a higher AAV (Average Annual Value), which says:
“We need you and we want you, Bryce. We’re going to win a World Series right here. Here’s a 10-year deal worth $280 million. That trails only Stanton in total sum, but it trumps him in average annual value. We’ll include a no-trade clause so you know you can raise your family here, but we’ll also throw in opt-outs — after, say, years four and five — so you could reenter free agency if money continues to flow into the sport and you perform as we believe you will. And that’s MVP-caliber, Bryce. We think you’re a Hall of Famer, and you’ll go in wearing that Curly W.”
The Nationals drafted and developed the pitcher, “who could define them for the decade to come,” Svrluga added, “[m]ake an offer, and see who blinks.”
Did Rizzo read the Svrluga column? Has there been any progress in negotiations? He was asked for an update on this week’s visit with The Sports Junkies.
“It’s a complicated negotiation and suffice it to say, I think Bryce likes it here,” Rizzo said.
“We would love to have Bryce. If it’s something that makes sense for both Bryce and for the Nationals, we would love to have Bryce Harper here in the long-term.”
”He’s a guy that we scouted for a long time, we drafted, signed, developed, and watched grow into a star,” the GM continued, “so certainly we’re going to have discussions with him and obviously we’re not going to just talk about them outside of the small group that’s involved in it, but we’d love to have him here long-term and I think he really likes it here.
“So there’s nothing to report on that end other than that we have great respect and admiration for each other and we’d love to have him long-term.”
Is the process, or are the discussions, ongoing?
With the Nationals on the outside of the postseason picture looking in, it’s not really going to be a distraction, as the WaPost’s Svrluga argued.
So have they been talking and has there been any progress?
”We’ve had discussions with Bryce and his people for a long time,” Rizzo said.
“We know that he enjoys it here and he wants to be here. We’d love to have him here. We’re not going to comment on where we’re at and what we’ve been talking about, but we’d love to have him here and I think he likes to be here.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance?