Nationals Rumors: Mark Lerner doesn’t expect Bryce Harper to return
By Blake Finney
While the Washington Nationals rumors have died down a bit lately, the latest may suggest that a Bryce Harper reunion now looks unlikely.
Bryce Harper has been the subject of several Nationals Rumors recently, about whether or not he plans to return. But now, Washington Nationals Vice Chairman Mark Lerner has implied that a return may not be on the cards.
In an interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday afternoon, Lerner said “We’ll have to sit down and figure it out. If [Bryce Harper] 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.”
Compared to other answers previously that have danced around the subject, this one seems pretty clear from Lerner. It makes it sound as though this may really be it for Bryce Harper with the Washington Nationals and that he will be leaving for elsewhere in the baseball world.
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Lerner also elaborated on where the team stood on their reported $300 million offer on the final day of the regular season. Lerner said, “we just couldn’t afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that.”
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether this offer was just a showboat offer to make it seem like the team had made an effort to keep him, or whether it was a legitimate attempt to keep him. Unfortunately, it looks like that was a legit offer and their actual final offer. Sadly, it’s not one that was ever likely to be accepted and perhaps that was the point the two sides knew something wasn’t going to come together.
Now, mathematically, it is possible for the Nationals to sign Harper and stay under the luxury tax with a few trades and perhaps working out a new contract with Ryan Zimmerman. However, the Patrick Corbin deal for six years and $140 million makes it incredibly difficult to bring Harper back while staying under the $206 million luxury tax threshold, and all but kills off the hope of him returning.
Mark Lerner’s recent comments appear to have all but shut the door on Bryce Harper’s days in D.C. today. The Washington Nationals still seem set to content in the NL East, but it won’t be easy watching Harper ply his trade elsewhere.