Matz: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Harper returned to Nats

Josh Luckenbaugh
January 30, 2019 - 10:46 am

Despite the rumors Bryce Harper would be signing with the Phillies Tuesday, it was yet another quiet day in the sweepstakes for the All-Star outfielder.

Eddie Matz still considers Philadelphia the favorite, but he believes Nationals fans shouldn't completely rule out a Harper reunion just yet.

"I do think the Phillies are still the front-runner, but the thing that intrigues me is: are the Nationals still in it, or are they not?" Matz told The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "Because they supposedly made that offer at the end of the season, $300 million 10 years. I'm not sure how much faith I ever put in that offer, because I think that was a win, win, win, win for everybody."

"It’s good for the Nationals to get that out into the public, because if Harper ends up going elsewhere, at least they can look back and go, ‘Hey, we tried. We offered $300 (million), it wasn't our fault. And of course Boras wants it out there and Harper wants it out there because it sets a baseline for his asking price, or at least it seems to at the time. That seems more like a ceiling now than a floor."

"I don’t know how valid that offer was, or still is," Matz continued. "It reminds me of the Orioles with Chris Davis a couple years ago, where they supposedly gave him a big offer and then were like, ‘Oh, it’s no longer on the table.’ Clearly, it was never really on the table, because he ended up signing with them anyway." 

"I feel like it’s a similar situation with Harper, so it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up signing with the Nationals. Look, all the numbers that we’re hearing right now aren't even close to $300 million or 10 years, so if that offer’s still on the table, you’d have to be an idiot not to take it."

That said, even if Harper does go to the Phillies, Matz doesn't expect a particularly strong reaction from Nats fans. 

"I think it'll be a mixed bag," he said. "The fans in D.C. are not nearly like the fans in Philly if you want to talk about passion. Philly's as provincial as a city gets, Washington is as transient as a city gets."

"I think you're gonna get people who (say), 'Hey man, Bryce gave us some time, and we love him for it.' Give him a standing ovation. And then you're gonna get some heart-broke people like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe that dude signed with Philly.'"

"Apathy," Matz added when asked how he'd expect the majority of fans to react if Harper returned to Nationals Park as a Phillie. "I've never been in the stadium where I've thought, man, that is a passionate response to anything."

"It's been a Redskins town for a long time. There's not a lot of institutional memory for baseball in Washington, and baseball of all the sports is a generational formula. It's gotta be passed on."

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