The twists and turns keep coming in the public on-again off-again courtship between the Washington Nationals and free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden tweeted last night that the Nationals latest offer to Harper was actually “much more” than the $300MM commonly quoted. Per Bowden, the 10-year, $300MM offer was merely the first offer the Nationals made to their erstwhile superstar. The offer as stated – seen by many as the low-end of what Harper might expect – has been the single biggest signifier that the Nats are ready to move on from Harper, but the ongoing entanglement between the two sides is evidently more complex.
There’s lots to read into this, of course, especially given recent rumblings about Harper. In the context of the White Sox being unwilling to move beyond a 7-year bid, sources from 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine said that Harper has multiple ten-year offers in hand. Presumably, this meant offers from multiple teams, but given the lack of specifics, we have been left to speculate about which teams might have already extended such a deal.
The Cubs are keeping tabs, but it doesn’t appear as if they’ve made an offer. The Phillies would be most people’s guess, but Harper himself didn’t attend Philly’s initial chat with Scott Boras during the winter meetings, which could presume it was more of a “testing of the waters” type precursor to the face-to-face meeting planned with Harper this week. There were mixed reports about the Dodgers meeting with Harper early in December, but besides the hailstorm of rumors set off by the Puig-Kemp trade, there hasn’t been much concrete linkage between the two sides since. The juiciest bit of news has been the recent report of a five-hour meeting just before Christmas between Harper, Boras, and Nationals owner Ted Lerner. Matter of fact, Levine’s mention of ten-year “offers” could just as easily refer to multiple ten-year offers from the Nationals. Combine that with Bowden’s tweet from last night and it’s hard not to put the Nats in pole position at this stage. Still, until something more concrete comes from Harper’s camp, the best we have is conjecture.