Bryce Harper Avoids Free Agency Talk Before Yankees Game: 'I'm a National Now'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2018

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 13:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates a solo home run in the third inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 13, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper refused to indulge speculation regarding his impending free agency prior to Tuesday night's game against the New York Yankees.

"I'm a National now," Harper said, according to ESPN.com's Eddie Matz. "We're going into the series trying to win some ballgames. That's the only thing on my mind. Just trying to beat a good team over there."

The Yankees are one of several big-market clubs which have been connected to Harper as he prepares to hit the open market following the 2018 season. However, it's reportedly becoming less and less likely that the Bronx Bombers—who already have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton penciled into starting outfield spots—will pursue the 2015 National League MVP. 

According to the New York Daily News' John Harper, it's "more of a long shot" at this point that Harper will wind up in pinstripes. 

If that holds true, the door will be open for a handful of other contenders to make a run at one of the biggest free-agent prizes in recent memory. 

According to ESPN.com's survey of 43 MLB executives, the non-Nationals clubs expected to hang around the Harper sweepstakes are the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Additionally, six executives predicted Harper would command a contract worth at least $400 million, while "multiple insiders think he will at the very least surpass Giancarlo Stanton's MLB-record $325 million deal with the Miami Marlins."

Entering Tuesday night, Harper was slashing .236/.400/.543 with a league-leading 13 home runs, 30 RBI and 41 walks. 

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