Steve Phillips: Nats will be fine without Bryce Harper

Ben Krimmel
February 28, 2019 - 12:15 pm

Despite persistent rumors, offers of free food, and many multi-million dollar contract offers, Bryce Harper remains a free agent.

Yes, the Bryce Harper Sweepstakes still rages as the baseball world prepares to turn the calendar from February to March.

While many fans in the DMV still hope to retain the 2015 NL MVP, it may not be the end of the world if Harper does not return to the Washington Nationals in 2019. Former Mets GM Steve Phillips told 106.7 The Fan he would not give Harper a mega-deal and believes the Nationals are going to be fine without him.

"I wouldn't sign Bryce Harper, I would not," Phillips told The Sports Junkies Thursday. 

"He was ranked 78th in WAR last year. He's a good player, he's a very good player, his best year was a great year when he was the MVP," Phillips said. "But, he's not one of the top-10 player's in baseball. Why would you make him the highest paid player in baseball? I wouldn't."

Harper, who has met with the San Francisco Giants again this week, been the subject of rumors from Smash Mouth, and offered free doughnuts for life, was indeed a great player for the Nationals during the first seven years of his career. But Phillips argues the Nationals are in a position to watch him walk away.

When asked if the Nats would be comfortable without Harper, Phillips said, "Absolutely."

"I love the Nationals right now, I think they're a really good team. I think (Brian) Dozier is gonna have a bounce-back season at second base, that was a good signing. I think Trea Turner will blossom even more, they're gonna turn him loose on the bases. I think (Victor) Robles, and (Juan) Soto, and (Adam) Eaton in the outfield and, sort of, the energy their gonna bring is gonna be really good," Phillips said. 

He sees the Nationals as "a really good team" and depending on how the rest of free agency shakes out, Phillips sees them as the team to beat in the National League East.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan on February 22 he was proud of the players the team was able to add this offseason.

"We've added a lot of free agents, we made a couple of trades," Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan. "We've turned over about, you know, almost 30, 40 percent of the roster. But we had a lot of holes to fill, we lost a lot of guys in free agency and had to patch that thing together and put together a club that we could be proud of that can take back the National League East and play deep into the fall."

"We've put together a product that we can be proud of and that can compete. And I think that right now we're in a position that we can win," Rizzo said.

Washington may also get a boost in the division, as it looks like the Philadelphia Phillies are no longer the favorites to win the race for the slugger's signature. Phillips reported yesterday a source with the Phillies believe "their chances of landing Bryce Harper are remote."

"What it feels like is Bryce Harper never really wanted to go to Philadelphia and it also feels like he never really wanted to stay in Washington," Phillips said on 106.7 The Fan.

Not signing Harper could harm the Phillies more than the Nats, as Washington has been preparing to lose Harper for some time. 

Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington last week they had "moved on" from Harper. Echoing his comments to 106.7 The Fan in December.

While losing a talent like Harper will be a tough adjustment for both fans and players alike, it may just end up being what is best for the franchise.

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