The trade deadline for Major League Baseball is less than a week away, and coincidentally, the Nationals' postseason chances are further in the rearview mirror with each passing day. The back-to-back NL East champions are currently 49-51, sit below .500 and are seven games back in the division.
The team has yet to make any major moves as buyers or sellers.
There are currently 14 players on the Nats' roster that will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2018 season, most notably Bryce Harper. Whether Harper and the Nats will come to an agreement on a new deal or move on from one another has been a topic of discussion since before the start of the season. That topic has since heated up when the team's struggles began months ago.
The Orioles are suffering one of the worst seasons in the history of baseball and traded All-Stars Manny Machado to the Dodgers and Zach Britton to the Yankees in an effort to rebuild. Will the Nationals make a similar leap and trade Bryce Harper before the season is over or is there absolutely no chance of that?
General manager Mike Rizzo laid down the groundwork on what would have to happen for that to come to fruition.
"A lot of things go into that question," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.
"That's a question that is tough to answer. It'd have to be something spectacular, a set of circumstances for us to do that. But like I said before, we're going to do what we have to do to better this team for 2018 and beyond. Harp[er]'s one of the superstars of the game, and he's a guy that's near and dear to my heart personally and is in Washington, D.C., and one of the great players in the game."
So what he's saying is there is a chance?
Rizzo – who is one of the best GMs in the league at making deals happen – could have straight up said "No, we would not trade Harper," but he didn't.
Rizzo has never been one to divulge trade deadline plans, as he shouldn't. But the response certainly sparks interest, knowing that if a team came to Rizzo with an eyebrow-raising offer, the Home Run Derby winner is not untouchable.
Prior to the 2017 deadline, Mike Rizzo struck a deal to acquire pitchers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Athletics. That deal has proven successful, and now more than ever, the Nats need another one of those.
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