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Bryce Harper wants to stay in D.C., if Washington Nationals wants him

Bryce Harper has expressed interest in returning to Washington in 2019, but is he in the Nationals’ future plans?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

As the Washington Nationals enter the final week of their lackluster 2018 season, outfielder Bryce Harper will soon have to face the biggest decision that’s been hanging over his head the entire year: Where will he go in free agency?

Harper has spent the majority of the season dodging questions regarding his free agent plans, but now that the Nationals are out of the postseason picture and the season will officially end on Sunday, it’s time for the six-time All-Star to face the music.

Harper talked about preparing for this emotional final week and impending free agency in an article by Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga. Staying in D.C. and playing with the likes of Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton, he said, is certainly appealing.

“I’ve always said: If I’m in those plans, I’d absolutely love to be here,” Harper told Svrluga. “But if I’m not, there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do. I would love to play next to Robles or Soto or [Adam] Eaton. I’d love to. But am I in those plans? I have no idea.”

Harper is arguably one of the top young stars the league has to offer, which is why he could potentially get a deal worth over $300 million. Some might say Harper doesn’t deserve the money since he’s been hitting below .250 throughout the season and he has dealt with various injury problems.

Then again, you have to look at Harper’s age, 25, and understand he has a lot of years left in him. Harper also bounced back in the second half of the season, hitting .294 and reaching the 100 RBI mark for the first time in his career.

But are the Nationals willing to meet Harper and agent Scott Boras demands, which could be $400 million? Whether Harper stays or goes, the Nationals’ outfield is set.

Adam Eaton is under contract for a couple more years. 19-year-old phenom Juan Soto, who is battling with Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for NL Rookie of the Year, has clearly proved he can play a vital role in the lineup for years to come. Top prospect Victor Robles has shown flashes of his potential.

Harper loves D.C., which is why the Nationals may have an edge over other teams pursuing him. He has spent eight years in D.C. and developed a strong familiarity with the area . For Harper, D.C. is all he knows.

“I grew up here,” Harper told the WaPost.

“I mean, I was 19 years old living in Arlington, Virginia, driving up [Interstate] 395 every single day. Then you get married while you’re here. You live with your wife here. You’ve kind of built your family a little bit. That’s what you know.”

“I know what it feels like to walk into the clubhouse as a Washington National and to walk into a playoff atmosphere with the Washington Nationals. And I love it. I love every minute of it.”

For Nationals fans, who want Harper to stay, I think his comments provide hope. However, there’s still plenty of uncertainty heading into the offseason.