WASHINGTON — Call me, maybe? Or not. Whatever.
Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner said Friday that the team has filled their 2019 roster and slugger Bryce Harper isn’t on it, adding that “We really haven’t heard from [Harper and his agent Scott Boras] in a couple months.”
In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington, Lerner confirmed that the Nats have “moved on.”
“There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best,” Lerner said.
Though he did leave some room for possible reconciliation, saying that “the door’s cracked a little bit.”
What say you, Twitter?
When Bryce Harper leaves the appropriate response from #Nats fans is to ______________.
— Todd R (@ToddRHockey) February 22, 2019
“Nationals have moved on from Bryce Harper”
— Peyton Jones (@peyton11jones) February 22, 2019
Just a reminder that I have a job and Bryce Harper does not
— Bailey Larkin (@Lark_702) February 22, 2019
The Nationals had previously made Harper a 10-year, $300 million offer before the end of the 2018 season — which was declined. Since then, the San Diego Padres signed former Oriole Manny Machado to a deal worth that much.
“Certainly Bryce Harper is going to want to exceed that,” said Todd Dybas, a senior writer for NBC Sports Washington. “The Nationals do not want to go up. They would go down. But I can’t imagine those two sides would agree on going down.”
And looming on the horizon is free agency for Anthony Rendon, which is “sort of connected to the Harper situation,” Dybas told WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard, as the Nats third baseman is a “very high value player.”
Fortunately, Rendon likes it in D.C., Dybas said.
“He’s open to discussing [a contract] extension,” he said. “Something they’ve chatted with the organization about before. Those talks will continue here at spring training. … So you have two sides definitely willing to talk there. Two sides that are happy with their current arrangement.”
So even though Harper might be moving on, there is still hope. And Dybas said second-year manager Davey Martinez is keeping things positive — with “a little bit more of a taskmaster element,” as there is room to improve over last year’s lackluster 82-80 finish.
“It continues to be a really upbeat atmosphere,” he said.