Bryce Harper rumors: Nationals ready to turn the page without prized free agent slugger
Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ says a return to Washington isn't likely for Harper
Harper is extremely young as six-year free agents go, and he has MVP upside. As well, he's buried those first-half struggles with some vintage numbers since the break (he's batting .298/.439/.546 in the second half). So he's going to make a lot of money this winter -- probably more than $400 million.
"In all likelihood, the Nationals are ready to turn the page with the outfield already set without him [Harper] next year with Adam Eaton in right field, Victor Robles in center, and Juan Soto in left," Bowden said Tuesday night on CBS Sports HQ ( and at the top of the story).
Bowden also noted that Harper and GM Mike Rizzo are both saying the right things when it comes to leaving the door open for a return to D.C., but in reality things just may not line up. "Realistically we're hearing from ownership that they are not prepared to spend the kind of money or commit the years it's going to take to keep Harper, and in all likelihood he will be gone."
He's certainly correct that the Nationals look set in the outfield. They could always seek to trade Eaton in order to clear a spot for Harper, but, again, ownership's willingness to make such an investment is very much left to question.
Bowden goes on to name-check the Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, and Braves as potentially being among Harper's strongest suitors in free agency. Those all make sense in terms of resources, existing payroll commitments, or some combination of the two. Whatever the case, the markets for Harper and fellow premium free agent Manny Machado should make this the most compelling offseason in a long time.
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