Managing Principal Owner Mark Lerner made headlines back in early December when he told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier that after Washington made Bryce Harper a 10-year/$300M offer towards the end of the regular season, which the 26-year-old outfielder turned down, the Nationals didn’t expect the 2010 No. 1 overall pick to return to the nation’s capital.
Having already signed Patrick Corbin to a 6-year/$140M deal at that point, Mr. Lerner said the initial offer to Harper was likely off the table even if he did consider coming back.
“It very well may be,” Lerner said. “We’ll have to sit down and figure it out. If he comes back, it’s a strong possibility that we won’t be able to make it work. But I really don’t expect him to come back at this point. I think they’ve decided to move on. There’s just too much money out there that he’d be leaving on the table. That’s just not Mr. Boras’ MO to leave money on the table.”
In an interview published this morning, Mr. Lerner reiterated what he said back in first week of December.
“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end; we’ve moved on, as I said back then,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington. “We had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure, will make his decision, hopefully in the next few days. But, we filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best. There’s always that -- the door’s cracked a little bit. I have no clue at this point what they’re up to. I mean, we really haven’t heard from them in a couple months.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo, who estimated that the Nats turned over 30-40% of their roster this winter with all the moves they ended up making, told Grant and Danny today that he hadn’t talked to Harper or his agent Scott Boras in a while, though he wouldn’t completely close the door on the possibility that the free agent outfielder returns to D.C.
He came pretty close to closing it though when asked if the Nationals had finally turned the page on the Harper era in Washington.
“You know, we never turned a page,” Rizzo explained. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we eliminated segments of the free agent population, especially, you know, players that have that much ability level and that we know fulfill all of the characteristics that we want in a player.”
But there haven’t been ongoing talks with Harper or Boras, at least since the two sides met with the patriarch of the Lerner family, Theodore N. Lerner in attendance around Christmas?
“No, we’re not having ongoing discussions,” Rizzo said, adding that, “... they know my phone number.”
“We’ve dealt with them for a long time and we’re in a position that they recognize that we’ve got ourselves a great team. We’ve put together a product that we can be proud of and that can compete. And I think that right now we’re in a position that we can win.”