Washington Nationals ready to make first move in Bryce Harper pursuit
By Blake Finney
The Washington Nationals offseason is not even 48 hours old and they’re already preparing to make their first move in an effort to keep Bryce Harper.
There’s no question about it, the Washington Nationals plans this offseason will revolve around one man. Bryce Harper. Just under two days after the final out of their season at Coors Field, the team is set to make their opening gambit for the superstar.
Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reported that several members of the Nats brass are heading to Las Vegas to make their initial pitch. The Nationals’ party includes members of the front office and ownership, while Harper and his agent Scott Boras will also be there.
Obviously, no deal should be expected after this meeting given Boras’ tendency to wring free agency for every last dollar. But it should give both sides a sense of whether a possible reunion is possible at any point this offseason.
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In recent days, both sides have expressed their interest in making a deal happen. All week, Harper had been saying about how he’d love to be back, and it’s up to the front office as to whether he was in their plans. Then on Sunday, Mike Rizzo told Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post “of course he’s in our plans” when talking about the outfielder.
As it always does with these negotiations, it comes down to the figures, and whether the differences between the two sides can be overcome. However, if it’s anything like the figure that was reported recently when the two apparently discussed an extension in 2016, it would seem unlikely.
Bob Nightengale claimed the two sides talked about an extension in December of 2016, and apparently, Harper’s price tag then was $540 million. There’s no mention of how many years this was for or any other details about the potential deal that they may have discussed.
If true, given some of the hints Harper has dropped about a possible 12-year deal, if that was the case with that figure, it would equate to $45 million per season. That would be way too much for the Nats to realistically offer this offseason, but it’s not out of the realms of possibility that his price could come down.
The 2017 offseason was one of the most bizarre in recent memory, with now AL MVP candidate JD Martinez unable to get a deal done until February. Bryce Harper also had a season that may put off some potential suitors in which he struggled to maintain a strong batting average and struck out at an alarming rate.
Another factor may be that after an emotional season, Harper could be susceptible to a hometown discount. Janes told 106.7 The Fan that there’s a growing chance that he may do so, although how much he’d be willing to lose out on to stay in the nation’s capital is unclear.
For the many Washington Nationals fans who are hoping for Bryce Harper stays in D.C. beyond 2018, it’s going to be a rollercoaster offseason. A resolution isn’t likely until December at the earliest, and Nats fans will keep their fingers crossed until more news breaks.