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Nationals don't expect Bryce Harper will be coming back to Washington, leaving the door wide open


He’s running...away from Washington.

The Nationals appear resigned to the fact that they will not be re-signing superstar Bryce Harper, the highly-touted free agent who is one of two top prizes on the market this winter.

Washington owner Mark Lerner was blunt in this assessment during an interview on 106.7 The Fan.

“I really don't expect him to come back at this point," Lerner said. "I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table."

Cash is indeed king when it comes to Harper, who with wily agent Scott Boras running the show will likely command a 10-year contract somewhere near 400 million dollars. Washington extended an obligatory offer to Harper at the end of the 2018 season that he rejected. It was reportedly for 300 million dollars over 10 years.

The Nationals don't think Bryce Harper will be putting on a Washington uniform again. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

On Friday, Lerner called that “the best we could do.”

Teams that could potentially do better include the Phillies — who are reportedly ready to spend silly amounts of money in free agency — and the Yankees, who are no strangers to throwing money at premium free agents despite saying they would like to stay under the luxury tax threshold. That could easily change, though, and should the Yankees decide to spend big, the next decision would be whether to use that money on Harper or Manny Machado.

The Mets, for their part, seem to be staying out of the Harper sweepstakes.

Harper will be the talk of the Winter Meetings, which start Sunday in Las Vegas, his hometown. But the Nationals aren’t expecting to be part of that conversation. Instead, they have focused this winter on shoring up a top-flight pitching staff to go along with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg by stealing away Patrick Corbin from the Yankees. Washington wooed Corbin with a hefty and potentially misguided 6-year, 140 million dollar contract that the Bombers were not willing to offer. They weren’t going past five years, 100 million dollars. They have also lost out on pitchers Nathan Eovaldi (re-signed with Red Sox) and Carlos Carrasco (re-signed with Indians).

But with Washington now apparently out of the running, maybe the Yankees will get their revenge in a big way if Harper chooses the Bronx.

-- With the Associated Press