Would Harper accept hometown discount from Nats?

The offseason free agency talk continues centering around the Nationals’ biggest free agent of their young history in outfielder Bryce Harper.

The Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago an offer to Harper of $300 million over 10 years with no player opt-outs.

The New York Post reported this weekend the latest rumor about the possibility of big-name players such as Harper and another current free agent, Manny Machado, going to the same team, say the Phillies.

But how remote is the shot for the Nats to have Harper return to D.C.? Would a hometown discount be the only way to get him back in a Nationals uniform for 2019 and beyond?

Harper-Swings-Gray-Sidebar.jpgMLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis says retaining Harper is possible, but not likely, given the track record of Harper’s high-profile agent, Scott Boras. Boras will play teams against each other to see which ones will give Harper the best offers.

On the other hand, Boras’ familiarity with the Lerner family and general manager Mike Rizzo could help the Nats’ chances.

“Sure, there is a way. I don’t know if I’d use the phrase ‘hometown discount’ with a Boras client, although Stephen Strasburg did to some extent,” Callis said. “I think it depends on the player. He made it to free agency, so I wouldn’t say hometown discount, but I wouldn’t ever rule anything out. Boras has got a magic touch with ownership in D.C., too. Who’s to say what the market is going to be, eventually, and maybe when it comes down to it whatever that number is, the Nationals decide they really don’t want to lose Bryce.”

But in the landscape of 2019 and beyond, with observers citing the possibility of $400 million and $500 million deals, it is too difficult to guess what kind of money Harper or other big-name free agents can expect to receive, Callis said. He offered that the team that goes after such players hardest might not be one we have heard about just yet.

“It’s just too hard with him and Machado,” Callis said. “My gut feel on the big-time free agents is, if you look at the history of it, I don’t know a lot of those players were projected to wind up with the teams they wound up with. Because usually one team comes out and offers a boatload of money that people didn’t see coming. People weren’t necessarily thinking the Diamondbacks were going to get Zack Greinke or the Rangers were going to get Alex Rodriguez.

“It really doesn’t seem like the Yankees are on top of both those guys, as you would’ve expected. I am never surprised by big free agency signings because it’s usually a team we didn’t see coming.”

The Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and many other teams have been mentioned regarding Harper’s next destination. Will the forewarning of luxury tax penalties keep some big-name teams from going after big-name players? You would think they would find a way if they really wanted him.

What also hurts the Nats’ chances a bit is that they have had a few years to hammer out a deal with Harper, but did not get a deal done for the long term. Looking at the situation from Harper’s point of view, he might have wanted to wait for the opportunity to arrive at free agency and see what offers are out there.

Could Machado and Harper end up on the same team? Seems remote.

I will have more this week about the possible connection between Machado and Harper as the hot stove heats up.

Happy Thanksgiving week!

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