Nats owner thinks Harper is gone

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

WASHINGTON » As with most things in­volv­ing the Washington Na­tion­als’ off­sea­son, a day that was sup­posed to be all about in­tro­duc­ing Pa­trick Corbin mor­phed into a day about Bryce Harper.

Washington an­nounced its six-year con­tract with Corbin, a heav­ily back­loaded deal worth $140 mil­lion, and the All-Star lefty starter donned a No. 46 Na­tion­als jer­sey as ro­ta­tion-mates Max Scherzer and Stephen Stras­burg looked on from the front row Fri­day. Af­ter the news con­fer­ence, gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo was asked a key ques­tion:

How might the big bucks he used to out­bid the New York Yan­kees and Phillies for Corbin af­fect the pur­suit of Washington’s own big-deal free agent, right fielder Harper?

“I think they’re in­de­pen­dent of each other. 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. “We thought it was good busi­ness — we had to fix the things we needed to fix. ‘Harp’ is a big part of our fam­ily, and we’d love to have him back.”

But in an in­ter­view Fri­day with ra­dio sta­tion 106.7 The Fan, Na­tion­als owner Mark Lerner painted a dif­fer­ent pic­ture about where things stand with Harper, who didn’t ac­cept a late-sea­son of­fer from Washington.

“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.”

Lerner also de­scribed the team’s ear­lier of­fer to the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP, re­port­edly for $300 mil­lion over 10 years, as “the best we can do.”

The Harper is­sue hangs over all of base­ball as the win­ter meetings are set to be­gin Mon­day in Las Ve­gas, but it’s not as though the Na­tion­als have been wait­ing around to see how it’s re­solved.

Rizzo has made a string of moves early in the off­sea­son, ad­ding two catch­ers — one, Yan Gomes, at­tended Corbin’s news con­fer­ence, as did long­time first base­man Ryan Zim­mer­man — and two late-in­ning re­liev­ers, in ad­di­tion to Corbin, a two-time NL All-Star who was 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA for the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs in 2018.

“We feel good about where we’re at,” Rizzo said about his start­ing staff. “We’ve got our Big 3.”

Cards’ Gold­schmidt is not think­ing be­yond 2019 sea­son

ST. LOUIS » Now that he is with the St. Louis Car­di­nals, Paul Gold­schmidt is not think­ing be­yond the 2019 sea­son.

The six-time All-Star was ac­quired from Ari­zona this week and will earn $14.5 mil­lion in the fi­nal sea­son of a seven-year deal that will pay $46 mil­lion, in­clud­ing a $1 mil­lion as­sign­ment bonus for the trade. If he doesn’t sign a new con­tract, he would be among the top free agents next off­sea­son.

“Try not to have any dis­trac­tions, so any­thing like that won’t be on my mind,” Gold­schmidt said at his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence Fri­day. “I think the big­gest thing is I’m ex­cited to be here, ex­cited to be part of this team and or­ga­ni­za­tion and just fo­cused on get­ting ready for spring train­ing and open­ing day and the sea­son and try­ing to help us win.”

St. Louis has a his­tory of ac­quir­ing slug­gers and sign­ing them to long-term con­tracts, such as Mark McGwire and Matt Hol­l­i­day.

“It’s al­ways hard to pen­cil out these types of deals when you only have one year of con­trol,” pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions John Mozeliak said. “When you think about where the Car­di­nals are, I’ve al­ways sort of been one of those types of peo­ple who thinks about the big­ger pic­ture. This was a dif­fer­ent type of deal for us. It was clearly about try­ing to po­si­tion the 2019 team to be more com­pet­i­tive.

Gold­schmidt did not rule out any con­tract talks with the Car­di­nals, say­ing his long­time pref­er­ence has been to “keep any­thing pri­vate.”

Gold­schmidt will switch to No. 46; Car­di­nals re­liever Luke Gregerson has the No. 44 Gold­schmidt wore with the Di­a­mond­backs.

“This was the clos­est to 44 that wasn’t taken. I didn’t want to take any­one’s num­ber,” Gold­schmidt said. “Hon­estly, I got 44 just be­cause it was hang­ing in my locker. I never made any re­quests for a num­ber. Just fig­ured I’d keep some­thing close to it.”

Mets hire Ban­ner from Bos­ton to head player devel­op­ment

NEW YORK » Jared Ban­ner has been hired as the New York Mets’ ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of player devel­op­ment af­ter more than a decade with the Bos­ton Red Sox.

The Mets also pro­moted Ian Levin to se­nior direc­tor of base­ball op­er­a­tions af­ter two years as direc­tor of player devel­op­ment, an ex­panded role that also will in­clude an­a­lyt­ics, health and per­for­mance.

Ban­ner, 32, is a New York na­tive who was Amherst’s base­ball cap­tain and joined the Red Sox front of­fice as a fel­low in 2007.

He was an as­sis­tant in player devel­op­ment (2008-09) and am­a­teur scout­ing (2009-10), and then served as co­or­di­na­tor of am­a­teur scout­ing (2010-12), as­sis­tant direc­tor of player per­son­nel (2013-15), direc­tor of player per­son­nel (2016) and vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel (2017-18).

Levin, 34, started with the Mets as a me­dia re­la­tions in­tern in 2005 and a base­ball op­er­a­tions in­tern in 2006. He was co­or­di­na­tor of am­a­teur scout­ing (2007-12).

PABLO MAR­TINEZ MON­SI­VAIS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Na­tion­als pitcher Stephen Stras­burg, left, shakes hands with new team­mate Pa­trick Corbin dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Washington on Fri­day.

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