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Nats, Boras meet to discuss Bryce's future

Preliminary discussions on possible extension began in November
MLB.com @JamalCollier

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals had preliminary discussions about Bryce Harper's future during a meeting last month in Palm Springs, Calif., among his agent, Scott Boras, general manager Mike Rizzo and team ownership.

Boras did not say whether he believed a potential extension could be reached this offseason before Harper enters the final season of his contract, in which his pending free agency could loom over the Nationals' 2018 season.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals had preliminary discussions about Bryce Harper's future during a meeting last month in Palm Springs, Calif., among his agent, Scott Boras, general manager Mike Rizzo and team ownership.

Boras did not say whether he believed a potential extension could be reached this offseason before Harper enters the final season of his contract, in which his pending free agency could loom over the Nationals' 2018 season.

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"That's up to ownership," Boras said Wednesday during his annual media session during the Winter Meetings. "We'll have to look at it and report back to Bryce."

Rizzo confirmed the meeting took place last month, although he said he did not read too much into it. Boras, who has a close working relationship with the Nats, usually makes the trip to Palm Springs for this kind of meeting with the Nationals' ownership group -- Rizzo joked it's his annual pilgrimage -- and the sides discussed a variety of topics.

"It was a preliminary conversation," Rizzo said. "It's something that we wanted to do. We'd like to get more momentum. Obviously, everyone's heart is in the right place and we'll see where it takes us."

Because of Harper's youth -- he's entering his age-25 season -- and string of accomplishments, including winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2015, he would enter next offseason as one of the most coveted free agents in recent memory. It's been speculated that Harper would command a very large contract on the open market, perhaps setting a record in the process. Giancarlo Stanton currently owns the most lucrative contract in MLB history, with a 13-year, $325 million contract he signed in 2014.

Rizzo acknowledged that contracts of that size, in terms of years and dollars, are a bit more complicated to negotiate.

"They're much more organizationally changing," Rizzo said. "It's a huge commitment for ownership. When you talk about those types of numbers for a particular player -- I always talk about for those types of deals, you're signing the person more so than the player."

And Rizzo has made it clear he plans to pursue Harper signing a long-term contract with the Nationals. Rizzo said last month on MLB Network that he believes the Nats have "as good a chance as anybody" to sign Harper long term. However, he did not want to talk specifics about any negotiations with Harper this offseason.

The Nats have the opportunity to hold exclusive negotiating rights with Harper during the next year -- he will earn $21.625 million in 2018 -- and they will use that time to try and convince him to remain in D.C.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper