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Boras: Onus on Nats to initiate Harper talks

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Boras: Onus on Nats to initiate Harper talks

NASHVILLE — If the Nationals harbor any hopes of keeping Bryce Harper in D.C. long-term, the onus will be on them to initiate negotiations, agent Scott Boras said Wednesday.

“I think those are club dynamics,” Boras said during his customary gaggle with reporters on the third day of the Winter Meetings. “Whenever any team approaches me about any player, obviously we have dialogue with them. But at this point in time, Bryce is going to be there for three more years, very happy there. So we’ll just go forward.”

Harper isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season, so this may not seem like a front-burner issue. But given all the factors at play — Harper’s just-completed MVP season, the fact he could hit the open market at 26, Boras’ reluctance historically to have his clients re-sign before becoming free agency — this winter might be the Nationals’ best shot at accomplishing what admittedly would be a gargantuan task.

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There has been no indication from either side that actual talks have occurred yet, and general manager Mike Rizzo suggested this week it’s not high on the current priority list.

“We’ve got quite a bit of control left on him,” Rizzo said Tuesday. “He’s going to be a unique and special situation for the franchise. I’m sure that’ll be a discussion with myself and ownership in the future.”

The framework for a potential long-term deal with Harper is difficult to put into concrete terms, because there aren’t many (if any) similar scenarios in baseball. The two most comparable players and terms might be Giancarlo Stanton’s record deal with the Marlins (13 years, $325 million) and Mike Trout’s relatively modest deal with the Angels (6 years, $144.5 million).

Stanton’s contract includes an opt-out after six years, potentially making the slugger a free agent at 31. Trout, meanwhile, still has the ability to hit the market at 29. Neither is a perfect comparison to Harper.

Boras, as he is wont to do, spoke glowingly about Harper on Wednesday, propping him up as a “generational player.” The hidden message: Whatever deal he signs, whenever he signs and with whomever he signs it, it’s going to be unlike anything the sport has seen before.

“I think with each player like that, you have generational players, I think each organization is going to have its own philosophy about how they handle him and what they do,” the agent said. “So that’s really something I’m sure the brain trust of the Nationals have to sit down and look at. And when they have a plan, we’ll let you know.”

There doesn’t appear to be any discussion at the moment of similar talks with another of Boras’ high-profile Nationals clients, Stephen Strasburg, who is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. The club faced the same situation last winter with Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond and all but conceded they would have each in uniform for only one more season.

“We’ve always tried to think about our core players, to extend them to contracts,” Rizzo said. “We’ve tried it with several players that have left us for free agency in the past. I would concede we would do the same for [Strasburg].”

For now, the two sides simply need to come to terms on his 2016 salary, hoping to avoid arbitration. (The right-hander is likely to make something in the neighborhood of $10.5 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections.)

Said Boras: “We’re discussing his contract, certainly for purposes of arbitration, doing that thing.”

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

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Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

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Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

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