- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2020

In an interview on Barstool Sports’ “Starting 9” YouTube channel, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper insisted he wanted to return to the Washington Nationals after his contract was up in 2018, but the deferred money in Washington’s offer was the sticking point.

Harper said he thinks it’s “awesome” when Major League Baseball players are able to spend their entire careers with one team and claimed he told his wife, Kayla Harper, after the 2018 season that they were staying in Washington.

He recalled leaving a December meeting with the Lerner family in Florida and feeling good enough about the prospects of returning to the Nationals that he told agent Scott Boras, “Scott, get it done.”

But he was disappointed with the offer he later received.

“I got back an offer, man, and it kinda, hurt, you know what I’m saying?” Harper said. “That’s all I’m gonna say. It just hurt. So we kind of just turned the page on to the new year.”

The team’s side of the story is already mostly reported. General manager Mike Rizzo said in a radio interview the Nationals’ opening offer to Harper was for 10 years and $300 million, with “some money deferred.” Harper told ESPN that the deferred money was about $100 million. The Washington Post later reported that the offer the Nationals made Harper in the winter also included deferred money, the last payment coming in 2072, when Harper would be 80 years old.

We all know what happened next: Harper signed with the Phillies for 13 years and $330 million, none of which was deferred.

Harper’s name was also the subject of trade rumors in July of 2018, due to the Nationals’ middle-of-the-road record and his pending free agency. Harper said he had heard three teams were interested in acquiring him: the Houston Astros, the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics. He learned “after the fact” that the Nationals and Astros had a handshake agreement in place for a deadline deal, but Nationals ownership overruled it.

The outfielder suggested that the Nationals should have come to him to discuss their options, saying it would have made sense for them to trade Harper for prospects and then try to re-sign him the following offseason.

“You’ve thrown in the towel. I will come out and say whatever you guys want to make the organization look good, I don’t care,” Harper said. “Say you got four freakin’ prospects, two pitchers, a catcher, whoever you guys got, and if you guys are going to try to sign me back that next year, I’m totally for that. I’ll have no bad blood. I’ll have no disrespect to you guys. You just made your organization better for the next whatever years, and you possibly signed me back.”

Harper added later that he was happy he never ended up with the Astros, in the wake of their 2017 electronic sign-stealing scandal that caused the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow and dealt the organization a black eye.

“I’m glad I didn’t now, knowing what we know,” he said. “That would have been really bad.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide