Nationals GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo says Bryce Harper would love to return to Washington after the 2018 season, but there’s other factors he’ll likely weigh in free agency.
Rizzo joined The Sports Junkies Friday morning, about 30 minutes after Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported Harper is bound to test free agency next year. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, earlier this week told reporters he had preliminary discussions with the Nationals last month about Harper’s future.
Asked to provide a ballpark figure of how much it might cost to retain Harper, Rizzo was non-committal.
“That’s not a fair question,” Rizzo said. “It’s supply and demand. This guy’s skill set is unique. His comps are the best players in baseball, so I wouldn’t even venture to guess, to put a number out there, because it’s probably inaccurate. Because nobody knows.”
“I’m just asking ballpark,” Jason Bishop insisted.
“If I had a ballpark, I’d give it to you, but at this point when we’ve just had some casual conversations, I wouldn’t even venture a guess,” said Rizzo. “I think it would be unfair for me to do it.”
Rizzo was asked if he thinks Boras is dead-set on securing the largest possible deal for Harper, or if Harper wants to come back and play in Washington.
“Well, I think Bryce wants to come back here and play here, for sure,” Rizzo said. “He loves the town and he loves the fan base. He loves this team that he grew up in. He’s got a great relationship with myself.
“He know the clubbies, he knows the town, he knows the route, how to get here. So he’s got a comfort level here, so that box is checked off for sure. ”
“Now, each individual is different,” he said. “They all have different needs and wants. You see when we signed Stras that it was really a factor of comfort with him, and he liked it here and he wanted to be here and we got a deal done.”
“I think Harp likes it here, wants to be here, but each individual case is different and unique and we have to take it at face value,” he said. “But suffice it to say, he loves Washington, D.C. and he loves it here. It’s his second home. And, hey, we’ve got as good a chance as anybody to sign him.”
Would you ever consider building a three-headed monster bullpen, like KC had in 2015 and the Yankees did in 2016, by going after a Greg Holland or Wade Davis type to add to Doolittle and Madson? — Sean in D.C.
“Well, we feel that we have that in Kintzler, Madson and Doolittle right now,” Rizzo said. The Nats re-signed right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler — acquired via trade last summer — earlier this week.
“You’re never done. You guys know that about us and just about everybody. You’re never done,” Rizzo said. “If there’s values out there. It’s all about cost allocation. How much do you want to relegate payroll-wise to the bullpen, to the rotation, to your position players and to your bench?
“Those are the balances that you have to look at when you’re creating a roster. But, hey, you can never have enough good bullpen guys, and those last three outs, I’ve always said, are the most important and the most difficult to get.”
“We love Doolittle, what he did in the ninth, and Madson in the eighth, and when we had Kintzler for that month and a half, what he did as the bridge,” he said. “I think you’ve got three guys at the back of our bullpen right now that have closed in the past, the could close when needed, and we’ve got great depth to finish off games, so we feel good about ourselves back there.”