Are these the last days of Bryce Harper playing in a Washington Nationals’ uniform?
Signs point to the answer of that question being yes. Harper will enter free agency this winter, looking for what could be a record-setting contract. A number of heavy-pocket teams are preparing to throw truck loads of money at the 25-year old. Rumors all season have suggested potential destinations such as the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers. So much so, recent odds released had the Nationals with the fifth-best odds of teams expected to land polarizing Harper.
Major League Baseball’s most disappointing team, the Nationals, will miss the postseason for the first time since 2015. That’s a statement that was unfathomable in the Spring as many predicted a World Series title for D.C.’s baseball team. Now, the focus shifts to how the team will retool for 2019 and the team seems prepared for that not to include Harper.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Harper said all the right things, including wanting to return to the Nationals if all things line up.
“I think about other cities, but I love it here,” Harper said. “Am I in the plans, you know? I don’t know. It’s hard to think about, because it’s all you know, and then you think about it, it’s like, ‘Well, it could all be over in a,'” and here, he snapped his fingers, ” ‘a second.’ It’s kind of crazy.”
“I’ve always said: If I’m in those plans, I’d absolutely love to be here,” Harper said. “But if I’m not, there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do. I would love to play next to Robles or Soto or [Adam] Eaton. I’d love to. But am I in those plans? I have no idea.”
Harper’s words are very peculiar considering how he talked about if he was in the Nationals’ plans. Let’s be honest, the only way he isn’t in the Nats’ plans is his price tag being too steep for them to commit. Nothing else.
Even in a down year hitting, Harper shows his worth and value with his ability to change the complexion of a game in one swing. He has drawn an MLB-best 129 walks through Sept. 25. He has 34 home runs and is one of 13 players this season to reach 100 RBIs. It would be asinine to just write such a player at Harper’s age out of a club’s plans.
So why the use of words?
One can assume that Harper either is genuinely concern that the Nats are not going to throw truck loads of money at him or he is simply planting the blame seed on the club for fans to forgive him signing elsewhere. The latter seems more realistic. It’s a ploy commonly used by athletes, however, if that’s what Harper is doing, that may not fly so lightly among Nationals fans.
There is the report of Harper asked former Nats teammate and Phillies legend Jayson Werth how is it play for Philadelphia. There’s the shaved beard before a series against the Yankees, the Yankees have a policy of no facial hair. Also, him asking Nats manager Davey Martinez to get reps at first base when the Yankees outfield seems crowded with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and Yankees mainstay first baseman Greg Bird struggling at the time and the most expendable Yankee to make room for Harper. There’s his friendship with fellow Las Vegas native Kris Bryant, and the whirlwind of questions and rumors surrounding the two possibly teaming up with the Cubs.
One would love to believe Harper and his love to remain with Nationals. And again, he may truly be genuine or that could exactly what he wants you to believe.