[ed. note - “Bryce Harper is not getting traded today. Mike Rizzo said so. In the end, this all ended up being rained on by Rizzo... but there was some pretty interesting chatter over the last 24 hours, so just follow along to the end, and watch for all the quickly changing tenses as we reacted to updates in real time...”]
Hard as it is to imagine for some, or hard as it would be for a fan of the Nationals a few years back, the collective “meh” from fans in the nation’s capital over the idea that Bryce Harper might be dealt at some point today was palpable.
Was it that Washington Nationals fans had given in and were accepting of the idea that the 25-year-old outfielder would eventually leave via free agency this winter anyway?
[ed. note - “For the record, we’re still not completely sold on the idea he signs elsewhere if he does test the market for a variety of not-important-now reasons; he’s settled in D.C.; the organization knows him better than anyone else; Scott Boras + Nats’ front office = ❤️; etc.”]
Were fans breaking up with Harper before he could break their hearts?
Was it less of a personal thing, and more of a calculated, reasoned approach that says you should’ve gotten more than what you’d get in compensation (a 4th-ish Round draft pick) if he rejects a qualifying offer and leaves as a free agent?
Would the Nats be able to find a team willing to meet Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office’s asking price for the 25-year-old former National League MVP, who’s not playing like an MVP candidate right now but has still hit 25 home runs (second-most in the league) and leads the NL in walks?
Whatever happens over the next six-ish hours or so, (and it appears now that nothing with Harp will happen) the fact that the Nats were reportedly fielding offers for Harper says a lot about where the team finds itself as the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Here’s the chatter from around the Twitters that was out there this morning:
"If I had to bet the family farm, back in Vermont, one way or the other, I think by the end of the day, he's on another team." - @Buster_ESPN expecting Bryce Harper to be moved today: https://t.co/1XsW9tcXV3— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) July 31, 2018
There's going to be a lot of Bryce Harper hysteria out there today, but the chances of him being moved by 4 p.m. are extremely remote, sources say. (If this is wrong and he's in another uniform in 6 hours, feel free to tweet me). #Nationals— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 31, 2018
At least one team in touch with the Nationals heard the club had deals "lined up" for multiple players, including Bryce Harper, but got the sense ownership pulled the plug late last night.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) July 31, 2018
rivals continue to believe bryce harper is long shot to be traded. nats are only 5.5 games out & they'd risk fan revolt. also, they wouldn't get haul as rental. o's did well getting yusniel plus 4 for machado. but market is better for a ss/3B & manny was hitting 100 points higher— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2018
In an article accompanying the video linked to above, ESPN’s Buster Olney listed potential landing spots for Harper if he was dealt, with the favorites, the Cleveland Indians on top of the list.
Olney also suggested that if the Nationals were willing to eat some of the $7M-ish dollars left on Harper’s contract for the year they might have been able to get better prospects in a trade with Cleveland.
Chicago’s Cubs, a rumored destination for Harper if/when he reaches free agency, were on the list too, with Ian Happ and Albert Almora, Jr. mentioned as major leaguers who could potentially be included along with prospects in any deal, and the Dodgers, because really why not, they get everyone else, were mentioned with names like Yadier Alvarez, Julio Urias, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson thrown out by Olney, who also added the Arizona D-backs to the list while noting that as the, “[Baltimore]Orioles went through trade talks for [Manny] Machado, they found the Diamondbacks’ group of prospects lacking.”
never find out and keep him and try to win with him this season. But I have seen how ever a great player like A-Rod, when he has issues, can impact the temperature and temperament of a whole clubhouse.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2018
All of the above was apparently just jibber jabber, and a waste of 20-minutes or so because Rizzo ❤️s Harper and he said he still thinks the Nationals can win. At least that’s what Rizzo just told Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes:
Mike Rizzo just reached out with this message:— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 31, 2018
"Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team."
Heard the same as @chelsea_janes heard first: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says Bryce Harper will not be traded today.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 31, 2018
Rizzo just added to me: “I love Harp.” https://t.co/GFghALrLa0— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2018
Is that a sigh of relief you’re breathing or an anguished (oh, come on!) sigh because you’d convinced yourself this was actually going to happen?