Lerner advanced the notion that Harper shouldn't be expected back in Washington by saying he will "totally understand" if he signs with another team and implying the team might not have the ability to up the $300 million ante it set.
"Well, when we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, 'This is the best we can do.'".
"We feel very strongly we're in good shape", Lerner said.
Even if Harper was willing to accept the previous Nationals offer, Lerner said he wasn't sure the team could now make it work.
"I really don't expect him to come back at this point", Lerner told 106.7 The Fan. "I think they've made a decision to move on". I think Adam, now I think he's back. "That's just not Mr. Boras" MO to leave money on the table". "And I think Adam with the two young guys, it's going to be a special outfield".
"We couldn't be fonder of the two of them, Kayla and Bryce", Lerner noted of Harper and his wife. "It's hard to see somebody like that go, but unfortunately it's a strong possibility that's going to happen".
The Sox are, after all, owners of the eighth-longest postseason drought in American professional sports (nine years), haven't enjoyed a winning season in six years and are coming off a 100-loss season in which they ranked 25th among 30 major-league teams in attendance. When he comes in playing for another team, we'll do right by him and have a real ceremony.
"We've always said that starting pitching is the driver", Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in an online statement. "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. "My dad and I have both sat with him", Lerner said. And, if we can't do it, we can't do it. Whether that's based upon specific knowledge or just his sense of things isn't clear; regardless, it's a notable statement from someone as well-placed as anyone to know how the market is developing for a top-shelf free agent represented by Boras (who has negotiated many a deal with the Lerners). "Harp is a big part of our family, and we'd love to have him back".