Dec. 15: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Nationals say the conversations about Harper were casual, and they fully expect Harper to test free agency next winter. The Nats still hope to re-sign Harper, he adds, but they seemingly don’t expect to be able to do so without him first exploring the open market.
Dec. 13, 2:54pm: Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo confirms the meeting, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter, and adds that the sides also discussed other topics. That includes Anthony Rendon, another Boras client who is eligible for arbitration for the second-to-last time after a highly productive 2017 season. Rizzo says that a long-term arrangement with Rendon is “something we’ll certainly discuss,” as the Post’s Jorge Castillo tweets.
10:13am: Agent Scott Boras told the media today that he has engaged Nationals ownership in preliminary discussions about a potential extension for star outfielder Bryce Harper, as Jamal Collier of MLB.com was among those to report on Twitter. Those initial conversations occurred last month.
It is still far from clear whether there’s any real likelihood of a deal coming together before Harper reaches free agency after the 2018 season. Indeed, Boras would not commit to anything and also did not indicate whether there are clear plans for future talks.
That said, it’s notable that the sides are engaging early to explore the possibility of a deal. And there is little question that Boras and the Nats’ ownership can find a way to bridge differences. After all, they have struck numerous high-dollar deals; of greatest relevance here, the sides lined up on a rather surprising extension to keep Stephen Strasburg from reaching the open market.
Harper, who only just turned 25, dealt with an injury late in the 2017 season but nevertheless compiled an outstanding .319/.413/.595 batting line with 29 home runs in 492 plate appearances. He’s considered one of the game’s preeminent young hitters and is certainly one of its best-known players. The expectation long has been that Harper will prefer to test the open market, where his youth and talent will draw a bidding war, though it’s fair to wonder whether he’d also see some merit in striking a deal to stay with one organization (while also locking in earnings after a strong season).