The Nationals only control Bryce Harper for one more season, but GM Mike Rizzo tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he would be “surprised” if the two sides don’t discuss an extension prior to Harper reaching the open market. “I feel like I have a great relationship with Bryce and his family since he was 16,” said Rizzo of Harper, whom the Nationals selected with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2010. “…I think Bryce has comfort with [Washington], loves his teammates, likes our organization and has a loyal mentality. But this is a unique player in a unique situation.” Rizzo adds that there’s no set time for extension talks to begin, but Sherman notes that the Nats were able to secure a seven-year extension with fellow Scott Boras client and fellow former No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg less than one year before Strasburg was set to hit the open market. Any talks with Harper would likely be precedent-setting; there’s been plenty of speculation that he’ll ink a contract in excess of $400MM, which would of course shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s record-setting $325MM deal.
More from the NL East…
- Not only are the Marlins hoping to trim their payroll to $90MM for the coming season, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, they’re also hoping to limit the 2019 payroll to roughly that same level. The Marlins’ new ownership group believes that revenue will increase in 2020 once they’re in line for a new television contract, and owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter also believe they can eventually add $5-10MM in annual revenue by selling the naming rights to the stadium. Jackson details some other more nebulous methods by which the Marlins hope to increase revenue, which would eventually allow the team to field a loftier payroll.
- The Marlins have hired former Mets bench coach Dick Scott as their director of player development, reports Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The 55-year-old Scott will work under newly hired vice president of player development Gary Denbo. Scott will also absorb the responsibilities of the minor league field coordinator position in his newly created role.
- Newly minted Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters today that he doesn’t feel pressure to come in and “accelerate things” or rush the process with his new club (link via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Anthopoulos said he’s spoken with John Hart and AGMs Adam Fisher and Perry Minisian at length to help garner as much knowledge as possible about his new organization in a short time. The former Blue Jays GM (who worked with Minisian in Toronto) expressed excitement over the club’s farm system, calling out Ronald Acuna, Austin Riley and Max Fried, among others, as players he’s excited to see develop. Anthopoulos noted that there have been internal discussions about the bullpen and about third base, where Riley is rising through the ranks, though he unsurprisingly didn’t exactly tip his hand as to which way they’d proceed this winter. Anthopoulos stressed the desire to build a sustainable contender in Atlanta and didn’t sound like a GM who anticipated coming in to make wholesale changes to an organization with a farm system that’s on the rise. Braves fans will absolutely want to check out the full column, as it’s packed with insightful quotes from the team’s new top baseball decision-maker.