Nationals owner on Bryce Harper: ‘I think they’ve chose to move on’

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"When we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.' We went right to the finish line very quickly", Lerner told hosts Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.

"But we just couldn't afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that". In light of the team's new commitments, he said, it "may very well be" that the $300MM offer to Harper is now off the table even in the event that he and Boras have a change of heart and wish to accept those terms.

The Nationals officially signed left-hander Patrick Corbin on Friday, with reports saying he agreed to a six-year, $140 million contract. Ten or so teams might still be in the mix, including the Phillies, who've declared themselves ready to "spend stupid money", but the Nats were viewed among the favorites until Lerner said, "I really don't expect [Harper] to come back at this point". At a news conference introducing Corbin on Friday, general manager Mike Rizzo was the deal was "independent" of what might happen with Harper.

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Educated guesses as to when Harper will sign vary from next week at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to perhaps next month. "I think they've chose to move on".

Without Harper, the Nationals would have Adam Eaton, Juan Soto, Michael A. Taylor and Victor Robles in their outfield. "That's just not Mr. Boras" MO to leave money on the table". Plus, Lerner did not express any disappointment at the idea of Harper going elsewhere for a bigger payday. "It's the opportunity of a lifetime for Bryce and Kayla and their family", he said, "adding that "we have no hard feelings about it." ". "It'll be a young, pretty incredible outfield defensively, and certainly with the bat it's going to be special". He had that season.

If Harper has played his final game in Washington, Lerner said he will look back at Harper's tenure fondly. And he'll still be iconic in the city, when he comes in playing for another team. "I really do. We've gone about this business of creating a roster for 2019, and at the end of the day, we'll figure out whether that includes "Harp" or not", Rizzo said.

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