With the MLB Winter Meetings just around the corner, one of the biggest storylines to keep an eye on will be Bryce Harper and how free agency continues to unfold for him.
Harper is expected to sign one of the most lucrative contracts in MLB history as at just 26 years of age, he already has six All-Star Game selections and a National League MVP to his name.
Harper has spent his entire career with the Washington Nationals to this point after they drafted him first overall in 2010. But the team may be going in a different direction as they recently signed former Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract.
While a return to the Nationals can’t be completely ruled out at this stage, owner Mark Lerner said the franchise presented Harper with their best offer, via Chris Lingebach of 106.7 Fan Radio:
“Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, ‘This is the best we can do.’ We went right to the finish line very quickly,’ Lerner said. “And we said, ‘If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we’ll see whether we can finish it up.’ But we just couldn’t afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that.”
The Nationals reportedly offered Harper a contract worth $300 million at the beginning of the offseason, so presumably, that is what Lerner referred to.
Considering Harper didn’t accept the contract, Lerner does not envision him re-signing as he seeks a larger value
“It very well may be,” Lerner said. “We’ll have to sit down and figure it out. If he comes back, 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. There’s just too much money out there that he’d be leaving on the table. That’s just not Mr. Boras’ MO to leave money on the table.”
A number of different teams are showing interest in Harper, and one of them could be the Los Angeles Dodgers as the club reportedly recently met with him in his hometown of Las Vegas.
The Dodgers may be looking to stay below the luxury tax threshold once again in 2019 though, so signing Harper would rule that out. With Scott Boras representing him, Harper is not going to take any sort of discount for the Dodgers or any other team.