Heyman | Guess by some is that Bryce Harper remains in Washington
The talks between superstar Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals have been kept quiet. And there’s a good reason for that: There aren’t any — at least not now.
People familiar with the situation say there were some discussions late last year – one source said he thought it was right after the season – but that Nats management quickly ascertained that the sides weren’t on the same page.
Sources say there will be no mention of any contract negotiations during the season.
Despite the apparent lack of talks, one Harper teammate said in this space a week ago that he believes that Harper will ultimately remain with the team by signing back for big bucks, and it’s easy to understand why someone would think that.
That’s also the opinion of a rival GM.
“They like him, and he appears to like it there,” says the GM.
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Harper’s agent Scott Boras and the Nationals also have a longstanding productive relationship, and that’s no small thing; Boras represents 10 Nats players, including four of their biggest stars (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon in addition to Harper), and he and the Nats did a $210 million deal for Scherzer and a $175 million deal before free agency with Strasburg.
However, even that relationship guarantees little; ultimately, the Nats didn’t match the Phillies’ $75 million, three-year deal for Jake Arrieta even though GM Mike Rizzo is said to have wanted to do the deal.
Harper hasn’t named an asking price, and in fact isn’t talking at all about his contract situation in his free-agent year, though folks familiar with the situation suggest he will be looking for a record deal, whether that be the $500 million price suggested in the first ever column here or a mere $350 million (“at least $350 million” was a price one Nationals person guessed could be the price, possibly because it represents a bit more than Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million record).
Harper doesn’t have his batting average (career .281, but just .227 this season) where it normally is, but he does have a .365 OBP to go with 18 home runs and 40 RBI. He had a huge March/April with 38 walks but lately, he has been uncharacteristically chasing pitches, leading to his falling average.
As for who will get more money between Harper and Machado, one GM for a team that could use either player said it was too close to call.
“It may depend on what people think of Machado’s ability to play shortstop,” he decided.
Boras is expected to make the case that Harper brings a cachet of off-field value even above his sparkling numbers at such a young age.
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