For the Nationals, expectations are low when it comes to free agent Bryce Harper donning a curly white 'W' on his cap next season. So low, in fact, that Nationals owner Mark Lerner doesn't "expect [Harper] to come back at this point," he said Friday on 106.7 The Fan FM in Washington.
Back in late September, Lerner reportedly offered Harper $300 million over a 10-year span in an aggressive effort for the 26-year-old to remain Washington. Now, Lerner can imagine Harper's top MLB agent, Scott Boras, pulling strings for a larger deal with a different team.
"Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' . . . If he chooses to go some place else, I totally understand it, but we put one heck of an offer out there . . . If he comes back [to negotiate with Washington], 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."
Mark Lerner on Bryce Harper: "I really don't expect him to come back at this point" pic.twitter.com/f2hIfL8X4v- SNY (@SNYtv) December 7, 2018
This is as much of a hint as any for the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman, who passed on left-hander Patrick Corbin, to go after the six-time All-Star just ahead of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Monday.
According to SNYtv's Andy Martino, New York is just one of a dozen teams that will travel to Nevada to meet with Harper. And there's a strong argument that a club that's not the Yankees is a a better fit for Harper's outfield acrobatics. The Bronx Bombers are brimming with outfielders, especially after resiging veteran Brett Gardner to a one-year, $7.5 million deal in late October. We can expect Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Gardner and maybe even minor league prospect Clint Frazier, to be parked beyond the infield dirt in 2019. So where does that leave Harper?
"I think [Harper and Boras] have decided to move on," Lerner said on 106.7 The Fan FM in Washington. "There's just too much money out there he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not Mr. Boras' MO to leave money on the table."
Boras got the Yankees' attention when he floated the idea of Harper moving to first base. New York is also looking to inject a big-name player into its roster in an attempt to match Boston's strong championship team, according to Martino. Will that big move be signing a Harper to a blockbuster deal? Suddenly, picturing a clean-shaven Harper in pinstripes isn't so hard to imagine.