Time is ticking when it comes to teams actually being able to get deals done before the trade deadline, and when it comes to top players like Bryce Harper there might not be enough hours left to pull a trade together. Especially one that makes both sides happy.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi is reporting that the Nationals and Indians have “communicated” about a Bryce Harper trade. Which is the “one of them texted ‘Bryce?’ and the other one said ‘maybe, idk, check later i’m eating’” of trade deadline wording. But it’s a rumor, so we’re grading it.
Why the Nationals would trade Bryce Harper
They’re six games back in the division and six games back in the race for the second NL Wild Card — with five teams ahead of them — so they have to decide whether they’ll buy or sell and admit that the Phillies’ and Braves’ division leads are insurmountable and that there’s no chance they will get 100% healthy and turn things around in the next two months.
Washington would also have to be certain that they are getting enough back in a trade that it outweighs how fans would feel seeing their team ship the franchise’s star out of town without so much as a goodbye tour. That seems unlikely — especially when it’s not out of the question for Harper to return to the Nationals as a free agent this offseason. The downsides here, combined with the short notice of the rumor itself, seem to risky to overcome.
Why the Indians would trade for Bryce Harper
The argument for making this trade is that ... he’s Bryce Harper? While he’s had a down year in some offensive categories he’s still hitting well for power and the Indians could use both a bat and his help in right field. Again, he hasn’t been at the top of his game there this year but he’s still better than many of the other options or the players currently on the roster.
However, if the Nationals are indeed placing a priority on pitching talent, as Morosi is reporting, then the Indians might not be where they want to look. If they wanted to trade their top two pitching prospects, Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber, there are better deals that can be made. For example, a player under team control for more than the next few months.
F. There are too many landmines here. For both sides. The Indians aren’t willing to give up the pieces necessary to get Harper, and the Nationals would be delusional to trade him in the next 21 hours without being sure it’s the best deal they could possibly get for him. Even if it was a great deal, the blowback from fans when the team could realistically still make the postseason is probably not worth it.