Nationals owner doesn't expect Harper to return
If there were doubts about whether All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper would return to the Washington Nationals, team owner Mark Lerner on Friday didn't give fans any reason to be optimistic.
"I really don't expect him to come back at this point," Lerner said on 106.7 The Fan, making his first substantial comments on the matter. "I think they've [Harper and agent Scott Boras] decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not Mr. Boras' M.O. to leave money on the table."
In September, Harper reportedly rejected a 10-year contract from the Nationals worth around $300 million.
"When we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' We went right to the finish line very quickly," Lerner added. "And we said, 'If this is of interest to you, please come back to us and we'll see whether we can finish it up.' But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the [National League] East or go farther than that."
Lerner also seemed to have doubts about whether the Nationals could make that previous offer work at this stage of the game after signing left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin on Friday to a reported six-year, $140 million contract.
Lerner also likes where the Nationals stand with their current roster of players in the outfield, led by Adam Eaton.
"We feel very strongly we're in good shape," he said. "It'll be a young, pretty incredible outfield defensively, and certainly with the bat, it's going to be special. I think Adam, now I think he's back. He had that season. And I think Adam with the two young guys [Juan Soto, Victor Robles], it's going to be a special outfield."
Harper, a six-time All-Star, has played his entire career with the Nationals since he became the first pick in the 2010 draft. He reached the majors in 2012 and won NL MVP honors in 2015.
If Harper does decide to sign with another team, Lerner wishes him well.
"This was a special (seven) years. And he'll still be iconic in the city, when he comes in playing for another team," Lerner said. "We'll do right by him and have a real ceremony. You can't be mad at him, and I don't think he'd be mad at us if we can't go any further."
--Field Level Media
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