By: Noah Wright
At the deadline, The Nationals were rumored to be listening to offers on all-star and Home Run Derby winner outfielder Bryce Harper. When the deadline came, The Nats announced that Harper was not on the table and available for trade. Once they made this announcement, many fans questioned if they were making the wrong decision. However, their decision may also be for the better. With how The Nationals season has been going, lets see if they did make the right decision or not.
Why would trade Harper?:
The main reason for The Nats selling Harper is that he is on the last season of his contract. That factored in with them 5 out of the division, and 4.5 out of the wild card also comes into play when talking about a Harper trade. The Nats also showed that they were willing to sell, as they traded veteran relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler who did have another year of control, and didn’t add anything worth noting. However, there’s also the threat of Harper not resigning with The Nats. With multiple big budget spenders likely to pursue Harper, The Nationals may not be able to keep up with teams like The Phillies, Cubs, and/or Yankees. An upside of trading Harper is that they could get a decent package back for him. While they may not be able to get back (because one he’s a rental, two, he was batting .220/.369/.473 entering The 31st, and three, because he has a -1.7 defensive WAR), let's say Triston Mckenzie from The Indians, they should have been able to get back something around the level of Cionel Perez from The Astros. A guy that isn’t ranked in the top 100, but is young, and next to major league ready. While there are plenty of reasons for them to trade Harper, there’s just enough reason for them not to trade him.
Why they didn’t trade Harper?:
The Nationals don’t really have anything to lose if they don’t trade Harper. While they’re not in a playoff spot, they’re not completely out of contention. A 5 game, and 4.5 game deficit isn’t an impossible deficit to come back from. Plus from a business standpoint, if anything, would hurt ticket sales. Harper is one of the most popular players in The MLB right now, and trading Harper could lose fan trust. One thing that may have stopped teams from asking about Harper is The Nats asking price. They could be asking for a team’s #1 prospect. Another thing that could be stopping a trade is that Harper wants to stay. Like I said earlier, he could be wanting to leave Washington very much. They haven’t been able to make it past the first round of the playoffs with Harper, but maybe he’s told The Front Office that he would like to stay a National for now. Plus, they aren’t a team that should be hitting the rebuild now button. They still have plenty of talent outside of Harper, both on The ML roster, and some in the pipeline so even if Harp does leave in FA, it’s not like they’re screwed long term by not getting a haul back for him.
After everything is said and done, I do think The Nationals made the better decision. Unless there was a package that was amazing, and they couldn’t turn down, there are more downsides of trading Harper. Like I said earlier, trading Harper could lose fan trust/respect for a longer term period than a Harper trade could. Plus since they’re not far out of contention, it wouldn’t be horribly surprising if they went on a hot streak. Harper is currently batting .327/.429/.635 in his last 15 games, and if the rest of The Nationals get their performance up, they could win a few series, put themselves back within 2 or 3 games of the division again, and maybe even add a few pieces between now and the August deadline.