Nationals Rumors: Ownership may match any Phillies’ bid for Bryce Harper
By Blake Finney
Despite some believing that Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies is inevitable, the latest Washington Nationals rumors may see the Nats match their offer.
Washington Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in under a week, but there’s still one big cloud hanging over them. Bryce Harper is still on the free agent market, and there have been countless Nationals rumors, about his eventual destination.
One of the main worries for Nationals fans has been the possibility that Harper could end up with the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies. But according to a recent report, Washington may not let that particular situation play out.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that “Nationals ownership may feel obligated to match (or come very close to) the Phils’ offer if they believe Harper is on the verge of going to Philadelphia, as opposed to a team outside the NL East, according to one source with knowledge of Washington’s thinking.”
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This is interesting given that some have wondered whether the Nationals would want to pony up the required money to sign Harper this winter. So it seems as though the motivation of their homegrown superstar going to a division rival may be enough for the Lerners to get out the checkbook.
The Phillies and their “stupid money” are still a threat, but perhaps if that sort of money was on the table right now, the ball might be rolling faster on Harper. That would, in theory, keep the outfielder within the Nats’ price range as things stand. However, it seems as though the marquee free agents are holding firm on their demands.
In his recent notes, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Bryce Harper is still “believed to be seeking at least $300 million,” as is fellow free agent Manny Machado. It is noteworthy, if not overly surprising, that both are still seemingly seeking the same amount as they were at the start of the offseason.
Nobody needs reminding of how ice cold the supposed “hot stove” has been this offseason, with several players getting less interest and money than we all thought. And with the calendar constantly turning over with no movement on the Harper-front, something has to give eventually.
Rosenthal also suggests that the market isn’t moving as “neither wants to sign first, knowing once one of the players goes off the board, the other will benefit from gaining the sole attention of the remaining suitors.” So we’re almost certainly in for even more waiting for both to sign.
But, given the report from Morosi, the Nationals would seem to have a good shot at keeping their superstar, assuming no mystery teams step up and offer big money. Nats ownership loves Harper, Harper loves Nats ownership. So if the slugger wants to come home, there will likely be a way to make it work.
There’s still a long way to go in the Bryce Harper saga this offseason despite players making their way to Spring Training. The Washington Nationals still appear to be in the hunt for the outfielder though, which will please several Nats fans.