Don’t Be Sad That It’s Over; Be Glad That It Happened

Nats GM Mike Rizzo has been busy this off-season, seemingly working to build a team that wouldn’t include Bryce Harper after Harper turned down the Nats’ 10yr/300M offer at the end of the regular season. That’s to be expected, because waiting around for Harper to sign could mean that all the good players were gone once the decision was made.

It was always thought that any re-signing of Harper here would be an ownership thing, anyway, since that’s the way Scott Boras (Harper’s agent) has always rolled with his players. There are some in the Nats’ twitterverse that claim that Boras is really the Nats’ shadow GM, at least when it comes to his clients.

On the other hand, Tom Boswell has seemingly been the local writer most willing carry water for the Lerner family, and he’s been saying since the end of the season that Bryce ain’t coming back, no way, no how. Today, Mark Lerner made it pretty clear that Boswell is almost certainly correct during an interview with the local Nats flagship radio station:

https://thefandc.radio.com/nationals-mark-lerner-bryce-harper-offer-best-we-can-do

I don’t want to see him 19 times a year, so I hope the Dodgers or an American League team sign him.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Be Sad That It’s Over; Be Glad That It Happened

  1. So far, Trout >> Harper. It’s a little like the good guy/bad guy duality, but not too extreme in either direction. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Rangers got Bryce and they were in the same division for a decade?

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    • Trout has clearly outplayed Harper during their careers, but Trout has been the best baseball player on the planet during that time, so there’s no shame in saying “He’s not as good as Trout”, because no one is.

      Harper’s time in DC, especially after his MVP season, is going to be remembered as a bunch of “What ifs”, as in:

      • What if he was healthy in 2016, even if he never really admitted to not being healthy?
      • What if he hadn’t slipped on first base late one Saturday night and missed six weeks of the season in 2017? He was on pace to put up numbers comparable to 2015, would he have won a second MVP?
      • What if he hadn’t succumbed to whatever pressure he was feeling prior to the ASB in 2018, feeling like he had to carry the team due to injuries and/or feeling the weight of the contract?

      They used to say an MLB player’s prime was his age 27-31 seasons; not sure what the prime is now, but Harper’s only going to be playing his age 26 season next year, so he’s still got the potential to hit 500+ HR and have 1500+ RBI before he’s done, assuming he stays healthy and interested.

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      • Yes, you are correct.

        My own opinion though, is the Nats had to find a way. Harper is still young, is bound to have a formidable career (I believe Hall of Fame career), and could have been the face of the franchise forever.

        Rumor here is Pujols holds grudges tighter than he holds his bat, and he will eventually enter the Hall with a Halos hat on his head, which is such a ridiculous farce it boggles my mind. The Angels best ever (retired) player continues to be Nolan Ryan who entered the Hall wearing a different cap.

        I believe baseball to be strong in history, and relatively unchanged in execution, which makes comparison of players from different eras easy and fun. How would The Babe do against Ryan? It’s the kind of question that cannot be applied to football or basketball because those games have changes more profoundly.

        I believe that makes history more important in baseball, and the best move the Angels ever made was getting Trout signed long term way ahead of his free agency. He’ll be an Angel, unquestionably, forever. That is going to be a marketing gold mine, forever. Compare this to other recent stars who DO NOT have an unambiguous identification with a single team. Who is Mr. October? Is he Yankee or Athletic (or Angel)? He is only himself, and will remain forever separate from the teams he led.

        Harper could have been The National for eternity. However great his career ends up being, he will never be more than Bryce Harper, and I think that’s a loss to him and to the Nationals.

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        • I think APuj will go in with some birds on a bat, mostly because that’s where the bulk of his accomplishments came from. The HOF does give options, but a prime example is Andre Dawson. He wanted to go in as a Cub – this is documented. HOF put him in as an Expo.

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        • A strong argument can be made that the Twins would have had more success on the field if they had let Super Joe go after 2010 and avoided paying for his declining years instead spending it on getting the right pieces for the roster puzzle as needs arose.

          They maybe would have been better off on the field, but not better off.

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    • It’s funny to try and put a good guy bad guy thing on these guys, because Trouty is too boring to be good and Harper is too Mormon to be bad.
      That’s frankly why they are interesting to me. BHarp is the most wholesome villian ever.

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      • I look forward to watching Trouty on the Weather Channel when he retires. Anyone else out there know he’s an avid (and knowledgeable) armchair meteorologist, and that Jim Cantore is one of his best friends?

        As far as Harper, he’s ackcherley a pretty funny guy with a propensity for finely tuned, idiosyncratic comments.

        Now Albert Pujols, there’s a boring character for you. It’s too bad he didn’t sign with the Feesh after all (not that Scrooge McLoria didn’t know all along someone would outbid him for the big lug no matter what he offered). It’s one thing to trade a superstar in his prime. But an old gorilla like Albert? I would love to see how Beep Beep would deal with having that contractual albatross hanging around his neck. Frankly, I think Pujols should go into the Hall of Flameouts wearing a horned helmet.

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        • The Machine actually has a big heart and is well liked in The O.C. (i.e., behind the Orange Curtain). He does a LOT of charity stuff but he’s low key. He just don’t know how to show it to the public.

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  2. If it’s any consolation to you the stat heads at fivethirtyeight argue that the Nats have already added more projected WAR’s in free agency this year than Harper is projected to contribute in 2019. They also argue that signing Harper would result in too high a percentage of their payroll being consumed by one player, which seems to be what many of the other teams are thinking. I bet it turns out that Harper winds up being sorry that he turned down the Nat’s offer while the Nats wind up being glad that he did.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-nationals-dont-need-bryce-harper/

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    • That’s the real deal with these big contracts, happy. To me it’s what the team decides they can’t do because they did that one. I have no sympathy for owners who plead poverty. But they do set budgets. And if one player ends up being 20%+ of that budget, it is likely to limit what else is done.

      Your point is well taken. In the end we root for the laundry.

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    • Mike Rizzo was quoted earlier this off-season as saying that he was comfortable going forward without Harper, but at the same time, he didn’t think that the team would be better without him. This was before they added most of the pieces they’ve already added.

      Based on potential and small sample size past performance, the Nats could very well deploy an outfield the next three years that doesn’t have a weak link (Soto, Robles, and Eaton), and at a total cost that will be a small fraction of what Harper will cost by himself. The Nats aren’t chock-full of top prospects in the minors, but they’ve got a few on the way, enough to where you can project out rosters for the next three years or so (going beyond that for any team is sheer folly) and say, “Yeah, they should contend for the post-season, assuming good health.”

      I’m hearing Boras is marketing Harper as not just a player, but also someone who sells tickets, etc., and I think that’s the right way to market him. He’s still got tons of potential, but he may never realize it all, and I don’t think any team is looking at him and projecting a guaranteed .900 OPS with 35 HRs a year for the next ten years.

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