Vegas: Nats fifth most-likely to sign Harper

Brian Tinsman
September 21, 2018 - 12:13 am
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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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Washington Nationals fans have been waiting for the day of reckoning with Bryce Harper for a long time, when he must choose where to spend the bulk of his career.

It is, after all, the double-edged sword of loving any sports legend in the free agency era, especially once represented by free-agent fanatic Scot Boras.

With the Nationals are not technically eliminated from the playoffs yet, the team has shown no signs of contention all season. Indeed, the next big decision for this franchise is what to do with Harper.

More importantly, with Harper likely to hit the open market, that same decision will be made in other cities as well. And according to Las Vegas sportsbook Bovada, other cities have the upper hand:

This is a fairly familiar list, with the cash-flush Chicago Cubs, L.A. Dodgers and New York Yankees at the top of the list. The Phillies are a team on the rise, and could use targets of Harper and Manny Machado to help catapult them into the World Series conversation. That assumes that the Nationals can't (or choose not to) provide the best landing spot.

So far, the Lerner ownership group and general manager Mike Rizzo have said all of the right things in public about wanting Harper to stay. And why not?

Even in a down season, Harper has an on-base percentage near .400, while staying on track to score more than 100 runs and drive in 100 runs. He has game-changing talent that can beat teams in many different ways. In short, he's a generational talent.

To his credit, Harper has also said the right things about wanting to stay, while never promising that he won't entertain options in free agency. For what it's worth, manager Dave Martinez thinks all signs point to Harper remaining in D.C.

"I know that he wants to come back. Whether that happens or not, we’ll see," he admitted to the media. "But I love having him. I love that he’s a National, still is a National. So, we’re going to ride this thing out until the end and it’s going to be fun."

That sounds more like wishful thinking for Martinez, but maybe he's right. At any rate, he sounds like a manager who wants his star player back.

"I really believe he has handled it really, really well,” Martinez said Harper's season. "He doesn’t talk about it. He goes about his business. He plays every day, good and bad. As you know, he started off real slow. He’s been unbelievable, so. He’s done a great job. He was here all year to win."

 

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