Report: Nats executives call Harper signing a 'long shot'

Ben Krimmel
January 13, 2019 - 2:24 pm
Nationals owner Mark Lerner say they have moved on from Bryce Harper.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

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The Philadelphia Phillies have emerged as the team most aggressively pursuing free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

After a five hour meeting with Harper and his representatives in Las Vegas this weekend, the Phillies, not the Washington Nationals, are now the "clear-cut" favorites, per Nightengale

The Nats, who were reported to be the favorites with "momentum building" toward Harper re-signing, have now fallen behind in the race for the slugger's signature. The Nationals' interest "appears to be waning" with team executives telling Nightengale a reunion with Harper is a now “long shot.’’ 

However, Philadelphia has yet to make an official offer to the 26-year-old former National League MVP. Reports indicate the Nationals have offered Harper at least $300 million for a ten year deal.

Managing principal owner Mark  Lerner ​told 106.7 The Fan in December "when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.'" Former Nats GM Jim Bowden reported Lerner's offer to Harper was "much more than the $300 million being reported by the media."

According to Nightengale, Washington officials say Harper is no longer in their plans and they are preparing for life after Harper, unless ownership changes their mind or Harper decides to accept a contract for less than $25 million a year. 

Former Marlins team president David Samson implied on Twitter the information from Nightengale's report was coming form Harper's agent Scott Boras as a maneuver to generate a larger offer from the Nationals. 

Samson has been very critical of Boras and his tactics in the past. 

With Philadelphia's official offer still to come, there may be one more twist in the Bryce Harper Sweepstakes. But as of now, Harper's next game in Washington will likely be as a member of the Nationals' NL East rival.

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