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Rizzo: Nats have great shot to re-sign Harper

Superstar set to enter free agency following '18 season
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's potential free agency after next season has been one of baseball's most speculated and anticipated topics for the past few years. It is so rare that someone with the talent level and list of accomplishments such as Harper -- a five-time All-Star, National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player -- reaches free agency at such a young age, which could make his next contract historic.

Harper has one more season remaining on his contract, but it is far from certain the 2018 season will be a farewell tour for Harper in Washington, even if he does reach free agency.

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's potential free agency after next season has been one of baseball's most speculated and anticipated topics for the past few years. It is so rare that someone with the talent level and list of accomplishments such as Harper -- a five-time All-Star, National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player -- reaches free agency at such a young age, which could make his next contract historic.

Harper has one more season remaining on his contract, but it is far from certain the 2018 season will be a farewell tour for Harper in Washington, even if he does reach free agency.

"I think we have as good a chance to sign him long-term as anybody in baseball," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on MLB Network this week. "He's the type of iconic, historic type of player that would love to be with the same organization throughout his whole career, such as [Derek] Jeter and that group of guys. I think he wants to be here. We want him here. I think there's an opportunity for him to make history here."

Video: Nats hope to retain Harper as contract year nears

In May 2016, the Nats and Stephen Strasburg agreed to a surprising extension, a seven-year contract to retain the right-hander before he entered free agency that offseason. That extension was also seen as unlikely because of Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, who has developed a reputation for taking his clients to free agency. Boras also serves as Harper's agent.

Boras said earlier this month that he had not had any conversations with the Nationals this offseason about a potential contract extension for Harper. However, Harper has routinely professed his love for D.C. throughout the years, saying at the All-Star break this past July that he preferred it to crazier, hectic cities like New York. He has also expressed admiration for players such as Jeter and Cal Ripken, who played their entire careers for one team, and thus became synonymous with that franchise.

Establishing himself as the face of the Nationals could be an enticing factor for Harper and a bargaining chip to give the Nats an advantage.

"We have a lot of things going for us," Rizzo said. "Bryce and I are very close, we dealt with Bryce's agents on many, many occasions. We have a great relationship with the company. Bryce was scouted, drafted, signed and developed here in Washington. It's his home away from home, and I think he loves the fan base and loves the city."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper