A little less than a month ago, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner seemed to close the door on Bryce Harper coming back. At least unless he accepted the reported $300 million offer the club made Harper before the season began. The message from Lerner in December being that the Nats won’t go any higher than that and won’t negotiate about it. It was, basically, a take-it-or-leave it offer.
Or was it?
Also worth noting that Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported earlier this week that Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, had a five-hour meeting with the Nationals before Christmas.
It’s worth mentioning that Bowden is a former Nationals general manager. For her part, Janes has, in the past, been known to pass along talking points from the Nationals fairly uncritically. As such, it’s possible that this is all just stuff coming from the Nationals in an effort to make it seem like they’re working hard to bring Harper back, either to make fans less mad at them if he walks or to drive up the price for the division rival Phillies, who are said to be interested in Harper. Of course, if a five-hour meeting did happen, there had to be at least some turkey talked, right? It’s not like they were watching the first two “Godfather” movies back-to-back. Which would be cool, obviously, but not really productive.
All of which is to say that the previous talk about the Nats not negotiating with Harper at all seems no longer operative and they have to at least be considered some sort of contender to bring their former outfielder back.
SAN DIEGO — Willson Contreras is going to St. Louis to replace Yadier Molina at catcher, agreeing to an $87.5 million, five-year contract with the Cardinals on Wednesday.
A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical.
The addition of Contreras fills a major void for St. Louis, which won the NL Central this season with a 93-69 record. Molina retired after spending his entire 19-year career with the Cardinals, making 10 All-Star teams and winning nine Gold Gloves.
Contreras was one of the Chicago Cubs’ last holdovers from their 2016 World Series championship. He made his big league debt that year and helped the franchise to its first title since 1908.
The fiery, strong-armed catcher hit .243 with 22 homers and 55 RBIs in 113 games in his last season with his first major league team. He was on the market this summer — leading to an emotional day at Wrigley Field for what looked like his final home game with Chicago — but he remained with the team after the trade deadline.
Contreras was the best option in a thin market for free agent catchers that also included Christian Vázquez and Gary Sánchez.
Contreras also has played first base, third base and the corner outfield spots in the majors. The three-time All-Star made 39 starts at designated hitter this year.
The Venezuela native is a .256 hitter with 117 homers and 365 RBIs in 734 career games over seven seasons. He hit a career-best 24 homers in 2019 and drove in a career-high 74 runs in 2017.