After flipping Bryce Harper at the deadline, along with every other player who wasn’t nailed down, it seemed as though the Nationals had given up on trying to retain him in free agency. But according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, Washington is prepping for “a strong effort to try to keep” their homegrown superstar this winter.
Such a push is complicated by the Nats’ financial situation, as laid out by Chelsea Janes in the Washington Post. Janes writes that Washington doesn’t just want to avoid going over the competitive balance tax threshold for the third straight season, “they do not want to come close.” That means reloading several positions — catcher, second base, multiple starting pitchers, depth for the bullpen and bench — for around $30 million.
Adding Harper on top of that would send that figure to maybe $60 million, which would see the Nationals blowing way past the CBT limit of $206 million for next season. And while that might seem to eliminate them from any chance at retaining their star for what could be the biggest contract ever, Heyman indicates that they could simply view Harper as too important to let walk away.