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Rizzo: Harper not holding up Nats' plans

GM has been aggressive in filling team's needs to start offseason
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been one of the most aggressive teams in baseball to begin this offseason, pouncing on deals for four players and checking off a few items on their to-do list, at catcher and in the bullpen. They even started making progress toward one of their other major needs -- at starting pitcher -- with a recruiting dinner this week in D.C., where left-hander Patrick Corbin met with general manager Mike Rizzo and principal owner Mark Lerner.

The one area in which the Nats must wait patiently for answers is the future of Bryce Harper, with the uncertainty of his free agency looming as perhaps the biggest question at the club's Winterfest event Saturday. With a little more than a week until the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Rizzo did not have or share any new information about the Nationals' status with Harper, but said he has remained in constant contact with Harper's representatives at Boras and Co. and that "they know where we stand."

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been one of the most aggressive teams in baseball to begin this offseason, pouncing on deals for four players and checking off a few items on their to-do list, at catcher and in the bullpen. They even started making progress toward one of their other major needs -- at starting pitcher -- with a recruiting dinner this week in D.C., where left-hander Patrick Corbin met with general manager Mike Rizzo and principal owner Mark Lerner.

The one area in which the Nats must wait patiently for answers is the future of Bryce Harper, with the uncertainty of his free agency looming as perhaps the biggest question at the club's Winterfest event Saturday. With a little more than a week until the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Rizzo did not have or share any new information about the Nationals' status with Harper, but said he has remained in constant contact with Harper's representatives at Boras and Co. and that "they know where we stand."

"They haven't showed their hand either way as far as what their timeline is," Rizzo said. "I think their timeline is: When they get the deal they feel comfortable with, I think they're gonna move. I don't think there's any urgency on their part. I think when they get something they like, it'll probably happen."

The latest Harper free-agent rumors

The Nationals already reportedly made Harper an offer at the end of the regular season, a 10-year, $300 million contract that would have been the largest for a free agent in any of the four major sports, but he rejected it because he is almost certain to receive more on the open market. The two sides have remained open to engaging in further contract discussions as the offseason progresses.

At the start of the offseason, Rizzo said he would not hold up his plans to wait on Harper, and his actions in the past month have reflected that.

The Nationals struck twice in October for bullpen arms, trading for Kyle Barraclough from the Marlins and signing Trevor Rosenthal. In November, Rizzo acquired two catchers -- signing Kurt Suzuki, then trading for Yan Gomes on Friday -- to fill perhaps the team's most pressing need. Next up appears to be starting pitching as that market begins to heat up, plus perhaps pursuing an extension for third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is entering the final year of his contract.

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But as Harper's free agency remains one of the biggest stories across baseball, the Nationals have made it clear they are not going to be held up by its uncertainty.

"We go into the offseason with a checklist every year," Rizzo said. "We've checked a few things off so far, but we're far from finished. And I think that the Bryce situation and filling some of the other things that we're trying to do are independent of each other."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper