Last fall we heard that the Nationals offered Bryce Harper a ten-year, $300 million deal. Yesterday we learned that, in reality, it was not really a $300 million deal because a full one-third of that $300 million was deferred money. Today we hear that there has been nothing else doing between the Nationals and Harper since last fall and that the Nationals have, officially, moved on.
That’s the story from NBC Sports Washington, which spoke with Nats owner Mark Lerner today. Lerner said the roster is set and Bryce Harper is not going to be a part of it:
“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 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.”
He did add later that “the door is cracked” if Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, wish to re-engage, but Lerner said he has not heard from the Harper camp in months.
It seems like Philly or, possibly, San Francisco, are the only real contenders. A reporter closely connected with Harper’s agent is saying the Padres haven’t ruled him out, but it’s hard to know how seriously to take that report.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.