The Washington Nationals are not afraid of spending money.
The MLB (Major League Baseball) team is interested in bringing Bryce Harper back. However, it will be finally making the most of his presence.
He is reportedly getting closer to running on and off the field with his teammates around him. Due to the fact that minor league seasons are over, unfortunately, Harper cannot go on a traditional rehab assignment to work his way back into game shape. He has been out of action since suffering a knee injury in mid-August. The Nationals are bringing simulated games to him.
The MLB team flew in right-handers Sterling Sharp and Brigham Hill to Atlanta to pitch to him in a simulated game Tuesday afternoon. It’s a smart move by the team. It’s expected that he will need more live at-bats before returning to game action, which is necessary due to the fact that he has not played in a game since Aug. 12.
He was even rumored to play Monday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park before a sudden illness nixed that plan.
"He was actually here before I got here, trying to get well," manager Dusty Baker said, according to Jamal Collier of MLB.com. "You know Bryce; he is champing at the bit to play. So it's just another minor setback."
Harper has been reminding everyone that he's one of Major League Baseball's best players when he's healthy. Just by looking his stats, it tells the story. His 1.034 OPS, 29 home runs, and 4.7 WAR through 106 games gave him a shot to add a National League MVP to a trophy case.
"Hopefully he can come back and get his timing back. That's going to be the hardest thing for him," Nats ace Max Scherzer said Sunday, per Collier. "But when you put him back in the lineup, our lineup is scary. We can score runs with the best of them."
Washington is already heading into October with a star-studded starting rotation that would impress any fan. Thus, it makes for a situation in which it'll have no excuses not to win it all. The Nationals drafted Stephen Strasburg at No. 1 in 2009 and Harper at No. 1 in 2010. However, this era has proved difficult despite giving a proper dynasty.
The 2012 Nationals won 98 games and came this close to beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series while in 2014, they won 96 games and went up against a mere 88-win San Francisco Giants squad in the NLDS.
This may be changing next year. Low payrolls were a fact of life before the Harper era. However, that has changed. The clock is ticking on the team, and it will be coming to a head at the end of 2018. There’s a good chance when that timer runs out, the Nationals will wave goodbye to a host of free agents led by Daniel Murphy, Gonzalez and, of course, Harper himself.
The Nationals have already inked Harper to a $21.625 million deal for 2018. The slugger's next contract is bound to blow away Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million megadeal and set a new record for the largest in sports history. With this type of deal, it’s expected more will come from free agency than the Nationals front office.
Here comes the crazy part. Spotrac puts the team’s 2017 expenditures at about $188 million. At the end of the day, the Nationals' six-year search for a dynasty will have cost nearly $900 million.