MLB rumors: Bryce Harper rejected Nationals' contract offer before free agency

MLB rumors: Bryce Harper rejected Nationals' contract offer before free agency

Superstar outfielder Bryce Harper became a free agent last weekend, but not before turning down an "aggressive offer" from the Nationals, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing multiple people familiar with the negotiations.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed Tuesday that the team had contract talks with Harper before the end of the season.

"We've had conversations, and we utilized our exclusivity to negotiate with him late in the season through when he became eligible to sign with a team,'' Rizzo told reporters in Carlsbad at the GM meetings in Carlsbad. "We didn't get anything done, but he's a guy that is near and dear to us, and we are not closing any doors.''

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The offer was worth less than $400 million and did not contain any opt-outs, one source told the Post. Fancred's Jon Heyman reported the Nationals made the offer on Sept. 26, the day of the team's home finale. 

Harper, a six-time All-Star and the 2015 NL MVP, is expected to be the most-sought-after free agent this winter. He has spent the entirety of his seven-year career in Washington.

The oddsmakers at Bovada gave the Giants the fourth-best odds (15/2) to sign the 26-year-old, behind the Philadelphia Phillies (1/1), the Chicago Cubs (3/1) and the Nationals (4/1).  The Giants have a new man in charge of baseball operations in former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, who will be introduced to Bay Area media Wednesday. 

At that point, we'll have a much better idea if he's willing to go farther than the Nationals to sign Harper. 

Mike Yastrzemski's homer in Fenway Park debut highlights Giants' win

Mike Yastrzemski's homer in Fenway Park debut highlights Giants' win

No one could have scripted it any better.

Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, playing his first game in grandfather Carl's old stomping grounds, did what the Red Sox legend did so many times: He manned left field, just in front of the fabled Green Monster, and launched a home run at Fenway Park in his team's victory.

The special moment came in the top of the fourth inning of the Giants' series opener against the Red Sox, when Yastrzemski blasted a 3-1 fastball off Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi 401 feet to dead center.

Yastrzemski, who finished 2-for-7 with the homer, one double, one walk and two runs scored, led off the game and received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd ahead of his first at-bat. He ended up striking out, but he got the better of Eovaldi the next time they faced each other.

"It was incredible, just being able to be in front of family and friends," Yastrzemski told NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez immediately after the Giants' 7-6, 15-inning win, "and I couldn't have asked for a better welcome from the entire crowd. That was special."

Alex Dickerson's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the 15th eventually ended the marathon, but all the postgame attention was on Yastrzemski, who was born in the Boston suburb of Andover. Tuesday's homer increased Yastrzemski's season total to 20, giving the Giants two outfielders -- Kevin Pillar being the other -- with 20 or more for the first time since 2006, when Barry Bonds and Moises Alou accomplished the feat.

[RELATED: Younger Yaz soaks up first Fenway visit as a player]

Perhaps most impressive of all, Yastrzemski's 20 homers have come in just 97 games with the Giants, who acquired the Baseball Hall of Famer's grandson in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in March.

Not too shabby for a 29-year-old rookie.

Watch Giants' Mike Yastrzemski receive standing ovation at Fenway Park

Watch Giants' Mike Yastrzemski receive standing ovation at Fenway Park

Mike Yastrzemski knew his return to Boston would be a big deal for his family, but he also knew how much it would mean to Red Sox fans who grew up cheering for his grandfather, Carl. Those fans showed their appreciation Tuesday when Yastrzemski stepped to the plate to lead off for the Giants. 

Yastrzemski got a nice ovation from the locals -- and a sizable Giants contingent -- before his first professional at-bat at Fenway Park. He grew up coming to games at the park and considered himself a diehard Red Sox fan. 

Yastrzemski said before the game that he planned to take the moment in. 

"It'll be cool. I don't get wrapped up in moments very easily," he said. "I've kind of trained my whole life to block out situations and crowd noises and stuff, but I think tonight I need to take a step back and get lost in one of the moments and appreciate that and experience it and then we can get back to playing baseball."

[RELATED: Yaz, family ready for emotional series at Fenway]

Yastrzemski went down swinging in his first at-bat, but it was still a successful inning for the Giants. As Yastrzemski was settling back into the dugout, Brandon Belt hit a solo shot over the Green Monster.