Don't leave the light on for Bryce Harper. The Washington Nationals outfielder is not coming home.
It's always about money, even when the difference is often modest. No one can blame players for seeking the most money, but sometimes the difference is just enough to prevent the player from returning to the locker room looking like a failure. Sometimes, the best deal is staying for less.
Certainly, the Nats will seek to keep Harper, and reportedly get the first chance to speak to him before free agency begins. But the Lerner family isn’t stupid. They're not paying Harper insane money, especially when Harper has not proven himself to be the best player of his generation. The outfielder is entering his prime, but $400 million or so greatly restricts building around him, and Harper isn't worth it.
Harper is just one of Washington's several needs if they are to rebound next year. The Nationals ended an underwhelming 82-80 season on Sunday with a 12-0 loss that was emblematic of their season. The roster had no sense of urgency, no intensity. It was like entitled people who think good things will just come to them because they're talented.
The Nats' offseason list begins with Harper, but certainly doesn't end with him. Good thing, because his path to home looks murky at best.