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Volume 25 No. 155
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Nationals' $140M Deal With Corbin Could Hinder Ability To Sign Harper

Nationals' deal with Corbin pushes team's salary commitments to somewhere around $190M
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Nationals have reportedly agreed to terms on a six-year, $140M deal with P Patrick Corbin, landing the "consensus prize of the starting pitching market," though the rest of their plans in free agency, including for RF Bryce Harper, "remain unclear," according to a source cited by Chelsea Janes of the WASHINGTON POST. The Corbin deal "pushes Washington's salary commitments" to somewhere around $190M, assuming "reports about the terms of Corbin's deal are correct." The Nationals have "insisted that they want to remain under the collective bargaining tax threshold after exceeding it for two straight seasons, which means they need to remain under" $206M in the sum of their "average annual value and various other expenses that filter into that conversation." That could affect the team's ability to re-sign Harper, whose "future was always going to come down to Harper and ownership -- and likely be independent of other roster machinations." If Harper "decides he wants to return, the Lerner family will have to decide whether they are willing to stretch the payroll to bring him back" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/5). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale noted the Nationals "may now be on the outside looking in" for Harper's services. The Nats certainly "showed they are not waiting on Harper, who rejected" their 10-year, $300M contract offer after the end of the season. The Nationals said that they "still could possibly sign Harper, but the structure of a deal, likely with plenty of deferred money, would have to be to their liking" (USATODAY.com, 12/4).

MONEY MOVES: In DC, Thomas Boswell asks, "What about the 'money left for Bryce?'" There will be "speculation, perhaps driven by agent Scott Boras, that the Nats are still in the hunt for Harper," as "unlikely as it now seems." However, that "arithmetic requires great imagination" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/5). NBCSPORTSWASHINGTON.com's Todd Dybas wrote for Harper, it "appears his next pay day will come outside of Washington barring the Lerner family pushing all their chips in to retain someone dear to them both personally and professionally." The Nationals "cracked the competitive balance tax" in '18. While being an "initial offender one season is a modest issue," becoming a "repeat offender becomes a financial burden" (NBCSPORTSWASHINGTON.com, 12/4). In regards to re-signing Harper, MLB Network's Jon Heyman said he does not think the Nationals have "ruled it out, but that's going to be an ownership situation." Heyman: "It will be an ownership decision and also Bryce Harper's decision." MLB Network's Sean Casey said, "If the Nationals come back with a pretty good offer, he's going to think even harder on that one" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 12/4).