Bryce Harper is an extremely popular man this off-season as he is reportedly looking for a team to offer him an unprecedented $400 million contract.
Apparently he was also a popular option of potential trade packages for the Washington Nationals throughout the 2018 season. The Houston Astros are the latest team to be linked to Harper.
Houston had a trade in place to acquire the former National League MVP before the July 31 trade deadline, according to a new report by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. Of course, Washington denied the deal set forth by the Astros.
Players under Astros control that were reportedly proposed in trade options include right-handed pitching prospect J.B. Bukauskas, catching prospect Garrett Stubbs and three other minor leaguers. Not all were expected to be included in the final trade offer but were available for the Nationals.
Understandably Washington turned this down. The only conceivable way that the Nats pursued this trade was if they believed that they were out of postseason contention. Trading a player like Harper for mere prospects, in a Manny Machado-esque move, would not have propelled the team into the playoffs. Simply it would just give them something instead of nothing if Harper were to sign elsewhere in this offseason.
Additionally, they would probably be out of the Harper sweepstakes if they made this move. If somehow the Nats landed him in the off-season after trading him many would cry of collusion.
This move comes about a week after the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers were also attempting to trade for Harper at both the non-waiver and waiver trade deadlines. Trading for Yasiel Puig, although unclear which deadline he was offered, was a more robust offer than what Houston put on the table.
It is evident though that the Nationals were trying to gauge how much they could get in trading Harper. With Houston being the second team to be revealed as a trade partner, it was more than just simple conversations among executives. This is further cemented with this line from Rosenthal's piece:
The Nats’ front office, frustrated by the club’s performance, had informed teams that Harper and other veterans were available. But at 10:30 a.m. on July 31, less than six hours before the non-waiver deadline, Rizzo sent the Washington Post a text saying, 'Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team.'
Harper was available for the right price. Now what that price was may actually be worth more than what the Nationals offered the outfielder to end the 2018 season.
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