While the Nationals have done background work in anticipation of a potential pivot to a selling stance, all indications to this point have been that the club has little appetite for offers on superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. That does not mean, however, that there’s no room for trade talks to occur. And there’s increasing indication now that the Nats may be more open than ever to the once-unthinkable possibility of trading a franchise cornerstone in his prime.
Here’s the latest on Harper heading into tomorrow’s trade deadline …
- The Nats are “making it known to other teams” that Harper “is indeed available,” per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s assuredly notable news, though it remains unclear whether the D.C. organization is yet committed to moving Harper. There’s a big difference between being open to taking a big offer, on the one hand, and auctioning a player for the best return possible. It seems doubtful the Nats would do the latter. After all, while Harper is a pending free agent, the team is still in reasonable striking distance of the division and also may have designs on trying to re-sign the franchise’s marquee player this winter. Then again, surely there’s an argument to be made that the club should either hold or sell most of its rental assets rather than only moving a few of them.
- Meanwhile, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post presents things in a somewhat less-committed manner. The Nats aren’t ruling out a move, she says, though the precise level of willingness to do a deal remains unclear. As she puts it: “The gap between picking up the phone and actively negotiating is wide, and no one with the team gave any indication of whether they had bridged it.”
- Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, on Twitter, reconciles things to an extent. The Nats are putting out “feelers,” he says, seeing if some team will go overboard with an offer. It seems, then, that the organization is actively interested in seeing what it can get for Harper, but hardly committed to moving him.
- The Indians have held discussions with the Nationals on Harper, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, though there’s no indication that the sides have gained any traction. Earlier today, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted that Harper would make quite a lot of sense as a target for the Indians — presuming, of course, that the Nats would make him available.