The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals are only separated by 45 minutes down I-95. These teams share the same network, albeit not cordially, and share a similar issue with their young superstars; they can’t keep them in town. The Orioles have already traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a number of prospects, but the Nationals have lost time to get value for Bryce Harper. It is already clear that Washington will not be able to bring back Harper, as they were not able to reach a contract extension agreement before the season started.
The July 31st deadline has come and gone, and the Nationals are in shambles. Their clubhouse is in disarray as Harper recently made comments that caused the front office and teammates to raise an eyebrow. It is clear that Harper does not approve of the direction the Nationals are going, and any player that voices concern to the media can start to become a hassle. It is especially problematic that the Nationals are currently 6 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the division, and are the same amount of games back in the wild card race. Washington was rated the best team in the division, but are currently falling apart at the wrong time.
The Nationals still have one of the best rosters, even without Harper, but to lose your prized All-Star without any value in return, and to know that they may have missed their championship window, will start to turn off some fans. The Nationals have spent a lot of time and money building Bryce Harper as the first great Nationals superstar and making D.C. a baseball powerhouse over the last four years. However, not trading Harper will leave this current roster unsure about the future of the team, and if they will be able replace his glove and bat in the lineup. Harper will be the youngest outfielder in free agency, at 26 years old, as the others are all aged at 30 years or older.
The fact is that the Nationals are not out of the division race yet, but they still look like World Series long shots. Everyone in business knows that return on an investment is the only thing that matters when making a decision, and the Nationals don’t appear to have a plan without Bryce Harper. Washington appears to be going “all or nothing” with their young star this season, but if they don’t cash in, the Nationals could find themselves on the outside looking in for the NL East.
Photo Credit: MASN Sports