Nats fans are stuck in a Bryce Harper pickle

Ben Krimmel
January 16, 2019 - 5:33 pm
Chris Russell said Bryce Harper has already decided who he will sign with.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper is still a free agent. (And the Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.) 

In a matter of weeks the Nationals have gone from front runners, to seeing "momentum building" behind a reunion, to becoming a long shot to signing Harper. 

With the situation still unchanged, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier brought up a dilemma: Would it be worse for Nats fans to overpay to retain the 26-year-old former MVP? Or lose him to the rival Philadelphia Phillies? 

"Bryce Harper staying in Washington because the Nats won a bidding war and overspent for him, let's just say... it's 50 million more than Mark Lerner told us," Paulsen said on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday. "Or he ends up in Philly, haunting this team and potentially tormenting them for years to come?" 

"You've gotta see him play for a team you hate. A rival in the (NL) East," Paulsen said. "They get better, they're winning divisions, he's hitting bombs at Nats Park (for the Phillies)." 

Rouhier says this hypothetical is why he (and every other fan) would be the worst general manager.

"Because at my core, I hate the Phillies, I hate the Mets, I hate the Braves, I hate the Marlins, too, by the way. I couldn't live with it," Rouhier said. "I couldn't handle Bryce Harper playing for Philly."

"Seeing him 19 times a year, for 10 years, (would) ruin things for me. I couldn't handle that. I couldn't handle it. That to me, and it's not close. I'm not saying it's rational, I'm not even saying it's correct. It's not good franchise building, it's not the right way to go about it... it will break my heart if (Harper's) doing it for the Phillies. It will break my heart. I can't allow it to happen," Rouhier said. 

Paulsen agrees with Rouhier it would be heartbreaking and crippling to Nats fans.

"He didn't just leave, but he went to the Phillies," Paulsen said, "And, by the way, they're about to be good." 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale has continued to report the Phillies are the team in the driver's seat and told The Sports Junkies Monday the Nats never upped their initial offer, contridicting a report from former Washington GM Jim Bowden. 

"I'm not even sure (the Nationals) have an offer on the table anymore, but they're making it pretty clear that, hey, Bryce Harper turned them down, which is his prerogative, and they went out and spent $190 million on other free agents,"  Nightengale said

Of course, there are other options. The Nationals may not have to overpay to retain Harper because his price is lower than it was when the Nats reportedly offered him a 10-year, $300 million deal or Harper signs for that same amount? Or he may sign with another team? The White Sox, perhaps? Or a mystery team?

If Jon Heyman's report is prophetic, "this may yet take awhile." 

"Great," baseball fans say in sarcastic unison.

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