Report: Nats have 'no plans' for Harper mega-deal

Ben Krimmel
February 21, 2019 - 9:25 am
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Still holding out hope the Nationals will re-sign the 2015 NL MVP?

Well, it may be time to move on. 

According to a report on MLB.com Wednesday, the Washington Nationals "have no plans" to give 26-year-old slugger Bryce Harper a "mega-deal" like the 10-year, $300 million deal the San Diego Padres gave Manny Machado. This would likely end any chance of Harper returning to Washington, his home for the first seven years of his career.

Washington made Harper an "aggressive offer" believed to be $300 million over 10 years before free agency began and were rebuffed by Harper and his agent Scott Boras. Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner then told 106.7 The Fan in December, the ballclub made the best offer they could.

"And we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do,'" Lerner told Grant & Danny. "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."

"If (Harper) comes back (to negotiate further), 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' M.O. to leave money on the table," Lerner said in December. 

One of the potential sticking points with the Nationals offer in October may have been the amount of deferred money. Two sources told MLB.com, roughly $100 million of that deal was deferred. Compared to the deal Machado will sign with San Diego which contains no deferred money. 

The Nationals are big proponents of deferred money. Washington deferred half of the $210 million in Max Scherzer's seven-year deal signed in 2015. This means they will pay Scherzer $15 million each July from 2022-2028. Washington will also hand Stephen Strasburg $70 million from 2024-2030. Both Scherzer and Strasburg are represented by Boras.

While Philadelphia remains the most likely contender to offer Harper "stupid money," the Chicago White Sox are not out of the running just yet.

The eight-year, $250 million contract to Machado included incentives that could have made the deal worth as much as $350 million, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. However, White Sox vice president Ken Williams said guaranteeing a player $300 million “wasn’t feasible to us.”

As of now, all the signs are pointing to Harper joining the Nats' NL East rivals in Philadelphia. 

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