08:11 AM ET 08.17 | With the clock ticking, Washington narrowly avoided the what-next scenario of Bryce Harper not singing. Monday night, the Nationals and Scott Boras began building the framework of a deal by 11 p.m., early enough, they thought, to avoid a last-second showdown. "And yet," Stan Kasten said, "there we found ourselves again. With a full minute to go, Mike [Rizzo] and I both thought we were not going to have a deal," Kasten said. ... "You go down to the last second until somebody blinks and you make your last-ditch effort," Rizzo said. "Once the smoke cleared, we had common ground to get a deal done." And when, exactly, did the smoke clear? "We don't know," Kasten said. "It's not an exaggeration. I can't explain it or brag about it. But it was inside the last minute."