Nationals nearing time to trade Bryce Harper

Will Bryce Harper remain with the Nationals after the trade deadline?

The Nationals currently sit 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East as the second half of the 2018 season rolls around. They sit 5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.

With Manny Machado leaving the Orioles, the question turns to whether or not the Nationals should trade Bryce Harper. The team has just under two weeks to do so before the trade deadline passes.

Harper, like Machado, seems insistent on testing out the free agency market. The reason behind that desire is rather simple and to some fans a bit self serving but when you’re two of the best players in baseball and you’re talking about a contract which could consume all of your prime seasons it’s fair to atleast see what offers are on the table.

That leaves the Nationals with the question of whether or not they can bring Harper back after the 2018 season and naturally is just a moment away from questioning whether or not it’s time for Harper to go.

Harper gave fans a thrilling Home Run Derby victory in the All-Star game at Nationals park but is it time to atleast consider what trading him brings?

The Nationals probably have not entertained the idea too much among their front office, after all who would have thought the Phillies and Braves would be contenders?

It has hardly been Harper’s best season. In fact Nick Markasis amassed more All-Star votes than him, and entering the second half Harper’s WAR according to Baseball Reference sits at just 0.0.  According to that metric Brewers reliever Dan Jennings (0.2 WAR) has been of more value to his club than Harper to the Nationals.

Harper has 23 homers but the real knock against him has been a drop in his batting average from .319 last season to just .214 this year. A few nicely placed balls and suddenly Harper would again be the toast of baseball.

So back to the question. Should the Nationals trade Harper?

The Nationals trade Harper one way. If they feel they no longer have a chance to re-sign him this winter. If the Nationals send Harper packing, they demonstrate to him that their plans may not necessarily be on going for a World Series run with their current group and signal a rebuild. If Harper leaves in the winter, the Nationals can keep the idea that they are poised to win now with their rotation and the rest of their offensive core and could put themselves in the market for a guy like Markasis, who could be had on a smaller deal while they address the back end of their bullpen again.

So to recap. Harper is probably not going anywhere. The Nationals only desire to trade Harper would be if they felt he had no desire to return during free agency. By all accounts the team still very much feels they can bring him back on a new long-term deal.

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