Harper, Nats on good terms; opt-outs could be sticking point

Ben Krimmel
November 09, 2018 - 12:07 pm

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals and Bryce Harper remain on good terms after Nats made "genuine effort" with a respectful offer to sign the free agent outfielder to a long-term deal, The Washington Post's Chelsea Janes said on 106.7 The Fan Friday.

"It seems like they're on good terms," Janes told The Sports Junkies. "It's still crazy to me to say the sentence: The Washington Nationals offered, what would be, the biggest free agent contract in sports history, but they did. You can't really argue with that. But, will it be enough? Probably not."

"But they did that, and that is not something I ever thought I'd see them do," Janes said.

The offer was a sign the Nationals wanted to make an honest effort to sign Harper and Janes said "no one seems too upset" details of the Nats' offer to Harper became public knowledge. 

"I think we sort of expected that all along, because it's in everybody's best interest to let people know that they tried, especially with an offer that big." Janes said. "A real genuine effort and surprisingly well handled, so far, by everyone involved."

The reported 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nats didn't include any opt-outs and, while that isn't why Harper refused Washington's offer, a lack of opt-outs may be a potential sticking point with Harper and Boras. 

"I think the opt-outs will come into play once he sees what the market has to offer because if someone is offering those, why not? If the money is the same, why not?" Janes said. 

 However, Janes indicated opt-outs may not be something Nationals ownership would be willing to offer.

"But it sounds like the Nats aren't gonna give a lot of those down the line," Janes said. "It sounds like the Lerner's are not comfortable with them."

And while Stephen Strasburg had opt-outs in his contract extension, this isn't something ownership wants to do for future signings.

"I don't think they're going to be reaching on free agents who say, 'I want on opt-out after two and four and six (years).' It sounds like they want people to commit and that's actually a fair argument. It's just the rest of baseball has not come to that conclusion yet," Janes said. 

When asked about other suitors for Harper, Janes said that she expects a lot of involvement and more reports of interested teams in the coming weeks.

"My expectation for this all along is that everybody will be involved at some point, even sorta off the wall candidates. There will be a mystery team," Janes said. "From what I understand (Harper and Boras) are meeting with pretty much everybody."

The most interesting part of this free agent period so far for Janes is the three supposed top three candidates  – Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers  – don't look to be in the market because they don't have the financial flexiblity.

"I would say it's gonna be, maybe, some of the big market teams that aren't the biggest market teams that we hear about most until the winter meetings," Janes said.

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