Nats owner thinks Harper is gone
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).
Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, left, shakes hands with new teammate Patrick Corbin during a news conference in Washington on Friday.