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Don Mattingly to Bryce Harper: ‘Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours’

Bryce Harper addresses reporters on Monday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Bryce Harper made it clear during his first meeting with reporters at spring training that he won’t discuss 2019 and his pending free agency this season, but he did offer his thoughts on the state of the National League East, including the Miami Marlins, who may not resemble a major league franchise again until 2020 at the earliest.

“I was very shocked that they were going to let go of [Christian] Yelich, [Marcell] Ozuna and [Giancarlo] Stanton because that’s one of the best outfields in the game,” the Nationals outfielder said of the Marlins’ various payroll-cutting moves, when asked if he was surprised Stanton wound up with the New York Yankees. “So, very shocked about that. You can’t say enough about what Stanton did last year, what Ozuna did last year, and what Yelich has done the last couple years. So, I thought they were a great team. I thought they just had to add a couple more pitchers and they would’ve been pretty dang good.”

Marlins Manager Don Mattingly didn’t appreciate Harper’s comments about his team’s personnel decisions under its new ownership group led by Derek Jeter.

Seven times Derek Jeter has stuck his foot in his mouth since buying the Marlins

“Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours,” Mattingly said Tuesday, via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The Marlins, who have endured eight consecutive losing seasons, are projected to be among the league’s worst teams in 2018. While Harper was simply stating the obvious, and his comments were a far cry from his “Where’s my ring?” quip that irked the Mets before the 2015 season, Mattingly felt the need to stick up for the likes of Garrett Cooper, Magneuris Sierra and the other relative unknowns on his roster, if not Jeter.

“It’s not really his place to comment on us,” Mattingly said. “He doesn’t really know what goes on over here. He may think he does, but he doesn’t know what’s going on over here, what the discussions are. He doesn’t know our players that we know.”

Former Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, for one, was much more critical of the franchise’s rebuild in December than Harper was on Monday.

“It’s terrible,” Gordon said after being traded to the Mariners. “It’s almost — I’m not even going to say almost. It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want to bash anyone, but what’s happened is not good.”

Anyway, bless the grouchy Mattingly for injecting a little bit of juice into spring training. The Nationals visit the Marlins for their second game of the spring on Saturday.

Read more on the Nationals:

Sean Doolittle avoided Metro for weeks after a teen told him he looked like Seth Rogen

Bryce Harper doesn’t understand why so many free agents haven’t been signed

Nats issue all-star seat assignments as tickets for game, HR Derby hit secondary market

Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother, out to make a name for himself with Nationals

The Nationals’ new pitching coach Derek Lilliquist is getting to know his very good staff