Bryce Harper will likely decline the opportunity to play for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, people familiar with the situation said Tuesday, confirming a New York Post report that cited a 50-player preliminary roster Team USA submitted to the World Baseball Classic in October.
Barring a drastic change of mind, the 24-year-old who volunteered to be a last-minute replacement on the 2013 team will not be on the 2017 one.
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, did not immediately respond to questions about his client’s participation. Asked late in the season about whether he wanted to represent Team USA late in the season, Harper declined to comment. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo would have allowed Harper to play in the 2013 tournament, if needed. As of the last month of the season, the sense in Harper’s camp was that the Nationals would allow him to play this time.
Cy Young Award candidate Max Scherzer is also on that 50-person list according to those familiar with it. Scherzer was not on the 2013 roster, though fellow Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez was.
Scherzer did not experience a marked drop-off in his production this season. He faced no health concerns. Though Scherzer has thrown at least 190 innings in six of the past seven seasons, and led the league with 228 1/3 regular season innings in 2016, the initial sense is that he is willing to add a few more high-intensity outings to his schedule.
Harper, of course, did experience a puzzling drop in production, which brought questions about his health. Harper is not scheduled for any offseason surgery and is good to go for his usual offseason preparation, Rizzo said last week. When Harper opted out of the tournament in 2013, he said many times that he hoped to be playing in 2017. As of right now, when the World Baseball Classic takes place March 9-22, Harper seems unlikely to do so.
Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.