Buster Olney: Bryce Harper 'not going to be a Yankee'

Chris Lingebach
November 07, 2018 - 5:28 pm
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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As Bryce Harper's free agency heats up, there's one big-spending team you can tick off the list as a potential landing spot, Buster Olney says.

Citing a "well-placed source," Olney reports Harper is "not going to be a Yankee."

The Yankees have long been the rumored next stop for Harper. The connection isn't complicated: Harper grew up a Yankee fan. But New York's Dec. 2017 acquisition of right-handed slugger Giancarlo Stanton – and his massive 13-year, $325 million contract – rightly put many of those rumors to bed.

NY sports media kept the dream alive, at one point speculating that the Yankees may try to move Stanton down the road via trade to open their budget to Harper, an idea that's about as impractical as it is difficult to pull off. First they'd need to find a team to take on Stanton's contract, and only then could they begin the process of luring Harper to the Bronx. All the while they'd be negotiating with their competition in the Harper market.

The Harper sweepstakes are underway regardless, and plenty of suitors remain. Bob Nightengale reports the Phillies, Giants and Cardinals are the top contenders. At the same time, Harper is competing against another marquee free agent, Manny Machado, although two teams now have had reported interest in landing both: The Phillies and White Sox. In fact, Philly is the Vegas favorite to land both.

On Tuesday, a Chelsea Janes report revealed the Nationals, on the final day of the season, made Harper an "aggressive offer" which she'd later report was for 10 years, $300 million ($30 million AAV). Janes was clear to establish that Harper did not decline the offer, he just didn't accept it, and that both sides remained open to resume talking.

"We haven't gotten anything done, but he's a guy that's near and dear to us," Nats GM Mike Rizzo told Jamal Collier from the annual GM Meetings on Tuesday. "We're not closing any doors."

Nightengale has since reported the Nationals' offer is no longer on the table, although "it doesn’t preclude talks from resuming before they make financial outlay for others."

Which touches on another key sticking point: time. The Nats can't allow themselves to be handcuffed from making other moves all offseason while they wait for Harper to come around. At some point, they will have to move on.

That's the true value in making the first offer. It establishes good faith.

Remember when Rizzo told you negotiations with Harper were "complicated"? Yeah.

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