Bryce Harper-Washington Nationals Free Agency Buzz With New Talks, Increased Offer

Photo credit Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON (The Fan D.C.) -- Where in the world is Bryce Harper signing? The most likely destinations remain: the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals. 

But the fog hanging over Harper's future may soon be lifting. 

A report Friday by former Nats GM Jim Bowden said the Nationals' last offer to Harper was "much more than the $300 (million)" reported by the media. Bowden also said the reported "aggressive" offer the Nationals made of 10 years, $300 million was just their opening offer. 

This would indicate Washington is still very much interested in retaining Harper, and the increased offer may have even made them the favorites to land the prized free agent. 

"I would be surprised if (Harper) doesn't sign" the upped offer from the Nats, a source told Michael Duarte of NBCSports LA.

In an interview with 106.7 The Fan in early December, Nats principal owner Mark Lerner said a deal was unlikely, even if Boras returned to the negotiating table after rejecting Washington's best offer.

"If he comes back, it's a strong possibility that we won't be able to make it work," Lerner told The Fan. "But I really don't expect him to come back at this point. I think they've decided to move on. There's just too much money out there that he'd be leaving on the table. That's just not Mr. Boras' MO to leave money on the table." 

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported Boras spoke with Ted Lerner -- the Nationals' former principal owner, before ceding the role to his son Mark -- "for five hours on the Saturday before Christmas" about Harper. 

"If Ted Lerner's in the mix," The Fan's Grant Paulsen said, "as soon as he gets back in the mix, the money for Harper's gonna go up, the chance of him staying in Washington is gonna go up." 

While the door on a Harper return certainly looked closed in early December, a deal to stay in Washington looks again like a real possibility in early January. 

By Ben Krimmel