Bryce Harper is going to get a massive contract in free agency, but the Nationals won’t let his decision disrupt their other free agency plans.
The Nationals were disappointed when Bryce Harper elected not to take them up on the 10-year, $300 million contract they offered him at the end of the 2018 regular season. That doesn’t mean they’ve given up hope on keeping him in Washington for the long haul. The Nationals front office is still talking with Scott Boras and company, but they aren’t going to let Harper hold them hostage.
Instead, the Nationals front office is treating Harper’s free agency like an entirely separate issue from the rest of their winter business. In other words, the possibility of re-signing Harper isn’t going to stop the team from acquiring other big-name free agents.
For example, the Nationals are a serious player in the race to sign Patrick Corbin. They were one of the three teams the talented southpaw visited last week. The Yankees are still considered the slight favorite to sign the New York native, but it’s very possible Washington could try to outbid New York. If that happens, Corbin could be pitching in the nation’s capital next year.
Don’t expect the Nationals to confine their interest to Corbin either. It’s very possible they will be involved with J.A. Happ and Nathan Eovaldi as well. Neither hurler will carry the same price tag as Corbin, but both will command significant dollars. Nationals fans should take comfort in the fact that the organization isn’t frozen by Harper’s indecision.
The team’s activity level also has significant repercussions for Harper and his representatives. On one hand, the talented outfielder may be more inclined to stay with the Nationals if he likes the talent they can place around him. Winning is important for Harper, and a quick retool for Washington should increase their chances of keeping him.
On the other hand, the Nationals do have a ceiling on their payroll. If they move quickly to spend big on more than one pitcher, it could lower the amount of money they’re able to offer Harper. He’s not short of potential suitors at the moment, but specific details about firm financial offers have been hard to come by. If he wants to return to the Nationals he must be careful not to overplay his hand.
The good news for Nationals fans is that their franchise desperately wants to remain competitive in 2019. They want to achieve that goal with or without Bryce Harper. Time will tell just how long they can afford to wait on the superstar outfielder.