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Rizzo defends Harper after 'cowardly' comments

MLB.com @JamalCollier

NEW YORK -- A day after an anonymous National League executive called Bryce Harper "overrated" and a "selfish, losing player," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo came to Harper's defense during a scathing rant to the Washington Post.

Rizzo called the comments "cowardly and gutless" among other expletives as he defended his superstar player prior to Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the Yankees.

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NEW YORK -- A day after an anonymous National League executive called Bryce Harper "overrated" and a "selfish, losing player," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo came to Harper's defense during a scathing rant to the Washington Post.

Rizzo called the comments "cowardly and gutless" among other expletives as he defended his superstar player prior to Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the Yankees.

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"First of all, the premise is entirely wrong," Rizzo told the Washington Post. "Bryce Harper is a winner. He's been a winner his whole life. He's been a Rookie of the Year, five-time All-Star, an MVP. He's won more games since he's been called up to the big leagues than any player in the Major Leagues.

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"So how is that a loser? This guy has done nothing but been a tremendous advocate for the Washington Nationals -- between the lines, in the dugout, in the clubhouse and in the community. His charitable endeavors and his philanthropic efforts have been second to none. Two fields in Washington, D.C., with his name on it, for the kids. So he's as far from a loser as you can possibly get. He's a champion. He's a winner. Always has been. Always will be. And these anonymous quotes from these unnamed sources like a National League executive, it's cowardly, it's chicken [expletive], and it's gutless."

Video: MLB Central discusses the comments about Bryce Harper

Rizzo was responding to remarks made to FanRag Sports in which the anonymous exec responded in three text messages about whether Harper was overrated. Harper's spotlight has been even further magnified this season considering he is in the midst of the final season of his contract with the Nationals before his much-anticipated free agency, where he could command a record-breaking contract.

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"If he gets more than 10 years, $300 million, I'd be surprised," the executive told FanRag Sports. "I would not give him 10 years, period, and certainly not at that AAV. He's just not worth it. He's a selfish, losing player."

This season, Harper entered Tuesday pacing the National League in home runs (19) with an .869 OPS, but he has been in a bit of a slump for the past month, dropping his average to .228. It has made the critics surrounding Harper intensify in a year when his every move will be scrutinized.

But Rizzo did not take kindly to those comments and vehemently defended Harper. The two have developed a relationship since Rizzo began scouting Harper at the age of 16 and eventually selected him with the first overall pick in 2010.

"This is yellow journalism. This is sensationalism," Rizzo told the Post. "This is somebody that nobody knows about writing something outrageous from a source nobody can confirm to get name recognition and clicks on some kind of blog. We'll never see this person, this National League executive. Obviously, he's never been with Harper or knows Harper because if he was then he would not have said what he said about him being a loser and about he cares only for himself."

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper