Russell: 'Embarrassing' if Nats don't get chance to match a Bryce Harper offer

Josh Luckenbaugh
February 19, 2019 - 9:29 am

The waters of the Bryce Harper free agent saga remain as murky as ever, an official announcement seeming both imminent and distant at the same time. 

The Nationals' involvement in the Harper sweepstakes has become a particularly sticky point in recent days. Last Friday, 106.7 The Fan's Chris Russell reported Harper had made his decision, but added later sources had told him Washington still had a "chance" to jump in with a "last-second offer."

Monday, Jon Heyman reported the Nats could still come in "late" and sign Harper, but the any rumors Washington has a right to match any offer are "untrue."

However, given the relationship Harper's agent, Scott Boras, has with the Lerner family which owns the Nats, Russell still believes Washington will have the opportunity to match any Harper offer. 

"Even though Jon Heyman yesterday ... said that the Nationals are not guaranteed that right, yeah I believe absolutely they still have a chance here to — before this thing is signed, sealed and delivered — to match something," Russell told The Sports Junkies Tuesday. 

"We all know the unique relationship that the Lerners and Boras have carved out. And by the way, it would be embarrassing ... after all the "sleeping together" these two sides have done over the years, it would be embarrassing if the Lerners did not get the opportunity to do a final match here, regardless of how upset Boras was about what Mark said a couple of months ago on this radio station to Grant & Danny. To me, it would be embarrassing."

That said, if the offer from another team approaches or surpasses Giancarlo Stanton's record-breaking 13-year, $325 million deal as has been reported by Jim Bowden, Russell isn't so sure the Lerners will open up the checkbook.

"If we're talking more than $325 (million), I don't know how they go there," said Russell. "I know they've got more than they know what to do with, but they hold this ridiculous, in my opinion, staunch 'We have to adhere to this strict budget even though we're $5.2 billion billionaires.'"

"The bottom line is, they could do whatever they want, they just don't ever seem to want to do that. To me, if Bowden is correct with his latest report last night it's more than $325 (million), I don't see them going there."

As of now, the rival Phillies appear to be the front-runners to ultimately get Harper's signature, Russell predicting Philadelphia would land Harper by the end of the week.

"I would say the Phillies," Russell told the Junkies. "I don't think that's in his heart to go there necessarily, I think that's his baseball acumen and sense ... I think it's more of a business decision than a heart decision, if that makes sense."

"I think (Harper will sign) officially — because of all this lawyer crap and because of Boras — Friday."

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