It might finally end. Soon... -ish. If you’ve reached the point where, one way or another, you just want to know where Bryce Harper is going to sign, you might get your wish in the near future... -ish.
MLB.com’s Mark Feisand reported on Wednesday night that he had a source who said, “... there is momentum building toward Harper’s return to Washington, while the [Philadelphia] Phillies -- who are set to meet with Harper this week in Las Vegas -- appear to be turning up their pursuit of [Manny] Machado.”
Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office have insisted this winter that they have the options in the outfield should Harper sign elsewhere, with Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Adam Eaton, and Michael A. Taylor, though they’ve remained open to the possibility of a return to D.C. for the 2010 No. 1 overall pick.
Harper opted to test free agency after turning down what was reportedly a 10-year/$300M offer from the Nationals at the end of the 2018 campaign, and there were recent reports which said the team’s ownership met with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras again, for five hours in the days before Christmas.
Former Nationals’ GM and current MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Bowden wrote on Twitter last week that Washington’s last offer was actually for, “... much more than the $300M being reported by the media,’ according to a source.”
“Apparently, the 10-year $300M offer was actually just the team’s [first] offer to Harper,” the one-time MLB exec added, suggesting that the Phillies need to go to Las Vegas and put the top bid for Harper on the table in a subsequent MLB Network Radio spot.
“If you’re going to fly all the way to Vegas, I think you have to leave Vegas having put on the table the most years and the most dollars that anybody has offered Bryce Harper, or don’t get on the plane.
Because if you think he’s going to go to Philadelphia over Washington for less money, it’s not happening.
“So if they don’t walk in there with 10 years, $350M, then don’t waste your time, don’t even waste your time getting on that airplane.”
[ed. note - “So the Nationals’ offer is for more than $300M but less than $350M if there’s consistency in that reporting?”]
MLB.com’s Feisand noted that while it’s still not clear if Harper and Boras, “... are intent on getting the biggest deal in history in terms of total dollars, average annual salary or simply the biggest free-agent deal of all-time,” if reports of the 10-year/$300M offer are accurate, “... boosting that offer by $25 million to 30 million isn’t a stretch.”
The deal, he suggests, would also likely have to include an opt-out clause which would let the now-26-year-old outfielder test the market again in another three or four years.
If Harper does return to the nation’s capital?
“I think everybody on that team we’d love to have Bryce back in right field,” Matt Adams said once he returned to D.C. on a second 1-year/$4M deal with the Nationals after he signed for the same last winter and was traded to St. Louis in August.
“What [Harper] brings to the table and just how he goes out there and plays the game. He’s passionate. I got along with him great last year and I felt like he was a great teammate and I learned a lot from him. So, the opportunity is there for him to come back and if he comes back I think it’s going to be amazing.”
“There’s nothing like playing with some of the best players in the game,” catcher Yan Gomes, who was acquired from Cleveland this winter, said in an MLB Network Radio interview this week.
“I know Bryce Harper definitely has been [one of the best], so I mean, hopefully the Nationals can get him, and that would be quite exciting to play with a guy like him.”
Aníbal Sánchez, who signed a 2-year/$19M deal with the Nationals, told MLB Network Radio hosts Casey Stern and Jon Paul Morosi on Wednesday afternoon that he hopes Harper finds the deal he’s after.
“I think every players deserves any kind of money that they can get,” Sánchez said.
“This guy has been an unbelievable player since he made the big leagues, especially when he made it at 18-19, but I think everybody is just trying to see how much he can get.”
Harper hit free agency following a .249/.393/.496, 34 double, 34 home run, 130 walk, 169 K, 3.5 fWAR campaign in D.C., finishing his seventh season in the majors with a strong post-All-Star break run (.300/.434/.538, 20 doubles, 11 HRs in 65 games and 211 plate appearances), after he’d struggled in the first half (.214/.365/.468, 14 doubles, 23 homers in 94 games and 414 PAs).
Will we finally get an answer as to where he’ll be playing in 2019 ... before the start of Spring Training at least? Please?