Everyday there is Bryce Harper news. Every year after free agency starts, Scott Boras, the super agent, holds center court as the raconteur. Last year he spoke of a fictional neighborhood he called “Playoffville”, and yesterday, he got started on his Bryce Harper press tour wielding stats and talking smack on behalf of his client. On the other end of the hallway at the Omni Resort in Carlsbad, California was Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. For Boras and Rizzo, they are connected by common threads in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Trevor Rosenthal, Juan Soto and others, but you have to wonder if these negotiations on Bryce Harper will strain their relationship.
Early this afternoon, Scott Boras went to the airwaves to appear on MLB Network Radio with Casey Stern. The conversation quickly turned to whether or not Harper would play 1st base if a team wanted him at that position.
“Well, Bryce Harper was a catcher, and Bryce Harper is an elite athlete,” Boras said to Stern. “What separates Bryce is that he has the ability and has been and Bryce always during the course of the season takes groundballs at first base all the time, and he is very familiar with that position.
“Bryce could put on catcher’s gear if he needed to and catch. He can help his team. He could help his team in many ways as they create the best possible roster during the course of a long period of time. That’s the advantage of having a slugger who is an elite athlete…Also he has the feet, the hands, the skill and the ability to adapt to a position where he can play the outfield and play first base — certainly. Do you want to do that what’s best for your team? Most probably not. I don’t think the elite athlete makes those decisions. I just think he has the capacity to do it.”
On the other end of the corridor, Mike Rizzo made it clear that he has made attempts to sign Harper to an extension. Note that he said “attempts” which means more than one attempt.
“We’ve certainly made attempts to sign [Bryce Harper] and we’re still… he’s our guy,” Rizzo said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what can transpire. I’m comfortable with the alternative. But I am uncomfortable with the statement that we are a better team without him. We certainly made attempts to sign him.”
It seems clear that the Nationals are not out of the chase for Bryce Harper, however, Rizzo made it clear that at some point he might have to move forward without Harper.
“We took advantage of our exclusivity late in the season,” Rizzo said on the rule that allows a player to only negotiate with the team he plays for prior to free agency. “It behooves us to have an expiration date.”
Nats made multiyear contract offer to Bryce Harper on dsy of final home game Sept. 26. Needless to say, he did not accept that offer, but Nats remain interested. Details unknown.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2018
Our sources believed the numbers for Harper were nine years and $280 million which was just over $31 million a year, but this was a number to chew on — not an ending point. It appears the Nationals would rather not include any opt-outs so they never have to negotiate with Harper again. This will certainly get more interesting as the days click off the calendar, and nobody expects Harper to decide on his destination until December at the earliest.