Bryce Harper is at the moment a Nationals lifer, but that figures to change soon. The coveted free agent seems likely bound for the Phillies, but the Giants and Padres -- yes, Machado's Padres -- remain in contention. And what of the Nats? They of course made Harper a $300 million during the 2018 season, but it was heavy on deferred money. They've remained in the mix this winter, and a D.C. reunion for Harper didn't seem out of the question -- that is until we learned what Nationals owner Mark Lerner had to say about the Harper derby on Friday (via Lisa Redmond of NBC Sports Washington) :
"Nothing's certainly changed on our end. We've moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I'm sure he will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we've filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best."
Lerner goes on to say that the club hasn't heard from Harper and his agent Scott Boras "in a couple months."
It bears repeating that situations such as this one are fluid until a contract is signed. On another level, this could be some stern messaging on the part of the Nationals in the service of re-engaging Harper before he makes his final decision. The more likely reality, though, is that the Nationals have indeed moved on from Harper and are focused on the 2019 season before them.
With Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton on the roster, they should be fine (and then some) in the outfield post-Harper. They've also been one of the most active teams this winter, as GM Mike Rizzo has added the likes of Patrick Corbin, Brian Dozier and Yan Gomes to the roster. Yes, they'll miss Harper's OBP skills and his home run power (184 in 927 games on D.C.'s watch), but assuming Robles adapts as expected to the highest level the Nats should have one of the strongest all-around outfields in the NL this season. Yes, even without Harper.
As for Harper, it's of course late out there, and his field of serious suitors seems unlikely to expand beyond what it is presently. Surely, this ends soon.