LAS VEGAS - Echoing what general manager Mike Rizzo has been saying all week, and not what managing principal owner Mark Lerner said last week, agent Scott Boras today insisted the Nationals are not out of the running to re-sign free agent Bryce Harper.
“I think when they say the door’s open, I would certainly pay attention to what they say,” Boras said during the early portion of what turned in a more than hour-long scrum with a throng of reporters today at the Winter Meetings.
Despite a strong suggestion from Lerner during radio and TV interviews last week that the Nationals don’t expect Harper to come back to them after turning down a reported 10-year, $300 million offer in late September, Boras today offered a sentiment similar to what Rizzo has been saying at these meetings: The Nats aren’t closing the door on the possibility.
“I talk to the Nationals ownership a great deal, and I have a very clear understanding, as does Bryce, of their position,” Boras said. “We’ve always had a great relationship, and we’ll continue to have one.”
Boras spent nearly all of the first 30 minutes of his scrum fielding questions about Harper from reporters who cover several clubs in the running for the 26-year-old slugger. He spoke mostly in vague terms but confirmed Harper has now met with every interested team, allowing negotiations to now pick up and potentially reach an end date in the near future.
“Certainly we’ve had a lot of meetings over the last three weeks,” the agent said. “We’ve met with a lot of clubs, had a lot of discussions. When you get to that point, something could happen quickly. Something could also happen in a matter of weeks. So we really can’t put a time on it. We’re certainly at a point where we understand the interest level, what clubs want to do. We’re really at a point where you could be meetings away from a deal. And then again, you could be in a situation where there’s further meetings and conversation.”
Boras wouldn’t delve too deeply into specific teams in the mix, but he made a point multiple times to insist the Yankees should not be discounted (despite GM Brian Cashman all but saying Tuesday they aren’t interested).
“This is not a race where every car is labeled,” Boras said. “There’s a lot of people that want to keep what they’re doing very private. Which is usually the practice with a major free agent. They’re bringing about, I think, a process that is different. Some clubs are more open and direct about what they’re doing. And some clubs want a very private process for them.”
Boras also made his typical pitch for the immense value a player like Harper brings to a franchise beyond wins and losses on the field, using the Nationals’ development since 2012 as his prime example.
“When you’re talking about any major market, obviously the TV contracts and having the benefits of a superstar, you take 25,000 households and it becomes 75,000 households,” he said. “That’s what happened in Washington. When you see the valuations and the revenues of clubs go up because they have assets, it just works from the business side and it works from the baseball side. It’s a very rare opportunity.”