Prior to making his Arizona Fall League debut tomorrow Bryce Harper chatted with Byron Kerr of MASNSports.com and had some interesting things to say about the Nationals’ future:
I think in the next couple years we will be the Yankees of the NL East. I have been telling everyone that. We are going to roll. We are going to win some World Series. That is everyone’s goal. [Field coordinator] Bobby Henley preached that from day one: “We are going to win the NL East someday.” I really believe that. Hopefully, we bring a couple of World Series to Washington, D.C.
The whole “we will be the Yankees of the NL East” thing is obviously pretty amusing, but my favorite part of the above quote is that a Nationals coach picked “we are going to win the NL East someday” as his big motivational tactic. Of course, if the Nationals don’t “win the NL East someday” they’ll be one of the least successful franchises in the history of sports. Someday is a long time.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.