Nats GM: Corbin, Harper ‘in­de­pen­dent’; owner thinks OF gone

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Howard Fen­drich AP Sports Writer

WASH­ING­TON (AP) >> 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 sixyear con­tract with Corbin, a deal worth $140 mil­lion, and the Al­lS­tar 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 Philadel­phia 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 latein­ning 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.”

They cer­tainly do, and at a sig­nif­i­cant price.

Corbin joins three-time Cy Young Award win­ner Scherzer, he of the $210 mil­lion deal, and three­time NL All-Star Stras­burg, with a $175 mil­lion ex­ten­sion of his own.

“As you’ve heard me say many, many times: Pitch­ing is king,” Rizzo said.

“We’ve al­lo­cated a lot of re­sources to our front of the ro­ta­tion, and I think that elite starters, mid­dle-lineup bats and back-end re­liev­ers is where I think you spend your money,” he said, “and you try to get val­ues along the pe­riph­ery of your roster.”

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