The Washington Nationals Should Trade Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals  v Milwaukee Brewers

The trade deadline is today so get ready for some wheelings and dealings as playoff contenders try to add that final piece to send them on their World Series run. I considered doing a blog about 10 guys who could get traded before 4:00 on July 31, but I decided I was way more interested in doing a blog about a guy who won’t get traded but should. That would be 2015 NL MVP and impending free agent Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

So if you’ve been following the MLB season, you’ll probably know that Bryce Harper is not having his best season. Before the start of play on July 30, Harper was slashing .220/.369/.473 with 25 home runs and 62 RBI with a 1.6 WAR. Honestly, aside from the low batting average, his numbers aren’t that bad. He’s having the second-best walk rate of his career behind his MVP season in 2015, though his strikeout rate is also the second-highest of his career. Harper also has been having his worst season defensively, as his DRS is -10, which is the third worst amongst right fielders in all of baseball. He’s ahead of only Stephen Piscotty of the A’s and Nicholas Castellanos of the Tigers (the latter of whom is naturally a third baseman). But Harper is also arguably the most feared hitter in the game. Despite his struggles at the dish this season, you have to be mindful of Harper when he steps into the batter’s box. This is what he’s capable of:

And that was earlier this season. You’ve got to be a REALLY strong dude to hit a home run on a pitch that broke your bat. That ball traveled about 390 feet, too. Any guy who can do that is a threat every time he comes to the dish.

But I do feel like this low batting average is going to cost him a lot of money. There was a time where people thought that Harper was going to become the first player to earn a $400M contract in free agency. That’s probably not going to happen but Giancarlo Stanton got a $300M extension from the Marlins before his 59 home run season last year so I definitely believe somebody will be willing to give him $300M this offseason. But the question becomes whether the Nationals should cut ties now and get something in return or ride it out and hope they get hot enough to go on a World Series run.

The latter would be a mistake. Right now the Nationals are sitting at 52-53, third place in the NL East, 6 games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies and 6 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card spot. Neither is an insurmountable deficit. However, they have the fifth worst record in the National League and have been trending in the wrong direction heading into this Deadline, as they’re 10-14 in the month of July. It would be a huge mistake for them to hang on to Harper because they think they can make a playoff run only for them to not reach the NLCS. Because let’s face it: the Nationals of the last few seasons were far better than this year’s bunch and not once did they reach the NLCS so I doubt hanging on to the current roster is going to fix anything. The haul a contending team would give up in order to secure Harper’s services would be astronomical, even if it’s only a rental. The Nationals do have a decent young core at the moment, which appears to be spearheaded by the 19 year-old Juan Soto and if they land the right prospects, that could result in a potentially shortened rebuild.

People are already aware that there’s now way in Hell Harper is remaining in DC as a free agent for a number of reasons. Number one, the Nationals won’t be able to afford him, a fact that was made pretty apparent when the team chose to extend Stephen Strasburg a couple years ago. On top of that, Max Scherzer is going to be on the books for the next decade or so (his contract is an interesting one that could put him in Bobby Bonilla territory). The next is that he’s a client of Scott Boras, who always has his players test the waters in free agency and rarely do they ever re-sign with their former club (Mike Moustakas last season was a rarity, though he did just get traded from the Royals to the Brewers).

But ultimately, the Nationals likely won’t trade Harper. There just simply haven’t been enough rumblings. Perhaps the Nationals have an impossible asking price for him? Perhaps they still think they can compete? Or perhaps they think they’ll alienate the fanbase by trading away their favorite player? Realistically, the Nationals are headed for dark days unless they get out in front of this rebuild, trade Harper for a bevy of top prospects, and give up on what is a lost season for the sake of the future of the franchise.

Should the Nationals trade Harper? Or should they take a chance on the rest of the 2018 season? Let me know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Derek Jeter’s Tenure as Marlins Owner is Not Off to a Great Start

857109536

As I’m sure you’re well aware of by now, people are none too pleased about the job that Derek Jeter has been doing as Marlins owner. While there have been a lot of missteps thus far, I don’t think the criticism is totally warranted. When it was announced that Jeter was a part of a group that included Jeb Bush that would be buying the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria, people got pretty excited, as pretty much anything Jeter’s name is attached to will be great. However, the Marlins haven’t even played a game yet and he’s already come under fire for the decisions he’s made.

It all starts with the Giancarlo Stanton trade. Now yes, this was a salary dump, but there are a lot of people screaming about collusion because Jeter sent arguably the most exciting player in baseball to a team he played 20 years for and received next to nothing in return. All it cost the Yankees to acquire the NL MVP was Starlin Castro and two prospects that weren’t even highly touted in their own organization. I don’t hate the move to trade Stanton. He was coming off the best year of his career and his stock will never be higher (until he learns how easy it is to hit bombs in Yankee Stadium), plus he’s in the prime of his career, making him even more valuable. The contract was a bit of a sticky situation, however, as he’s still got 10 years and over $290 million remaining on that deal, which was the main driving force behind trying to trade him. But surely the Yankees would be able to afford it. I wouldn’t have minded the trade had the Marlins received the likes of Gleyber Torres, Estevan Florial, or Justus Sheffield. But none of them were sent. Hell, the Yankees acquired Torres from the Cubs for a half season of Aroldis Chapman! Surely the deadliest hitter in the game with 10 years of team control would reel in more than a reliever whom you’d only have for a couple months, right? Again, I get that this was a salary dump, but you do realize that prospects make dirt right? The criticisms here are totally fair.

What’s worse is that Jeter wasn’t even at the Winter Meetings to justify his trade to the other GMs. Nobody knew where he was or why he wasn’t there. That was until…

 

DQ0HfohWAAEVAdK

photo credit: The Comeback

As you can see, Jeter attended the Monday Night Football game between the Dolphins and Patriots instead of attending the Winter Meetings. Normally I would love this move because it would tell the fans that you’re buying in to the culture of the city. However, it was so poorly timed, being that one of the most important days of the offseason were going on halfway across the country, that he got ripped to shreds on social media for it.

Then he traded Marcell Ozuna, which I didn’t have any problems with, mainly because the return they got from the Cardinals was pretty good, as they received a couple of their best prospects for a guy who could become the face of this organization. But the fact that the Marlins had already traded 3 of their best players before Christmas time (Dee Gordon to Seattle being the other) had a lot of people nervous. And that’s not just the fans, even some players as well! Centerfielder Christian Yelich and catcher JT Realmuto have both demanded trades as they don’t want to be part of a team that’s tanking. Now people have hit the panic button.

Jeter held a town hall-style meeting to allow fans to air their grievances. As you can probably guess, it didn’t go well. People started screaming and all Hell broke loose and Marlins Man gave a “do you know who I am?” to Jeter before announcing he would not be renewing his season tickets. For those who don’t know, Marlins Man is probably the most famous super fan in baseball right now, as he can often be spotted sitting behind home plate at all the big games decked out in a bright orange Marlins jersey and visor. Also, fun fact, if you search “Marlins Man” on Getty Images, you only get pictures of Ichiro.

marlinsman3

photo credit: Miami Herald

It’s basically the equivalent of when Fireman Ed was giving up his Jets season tickets when they were in their peak dumpster fire years. You know you’ve screwed up when a guy whose sole identity revolves around your team has forsaken you.

But it’s not like this is anything new for Marlins fans. Jeffrey Loria would screw you in a different way. For the 2012 season, the Marlins built a brand new stadium with taxpayers’ money, one that the people didn’t want, then acquired a plethora of talent like Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and manager Ozzie Guillen. They were even going to be featured in the Starz series “The Franchise,” which was a Hard Knocks-style show that followed an MLB team for an entire season. Well by the Trade Deadline everybody had been traded because the Marlins were at the bottom of NL East, everybody was underachieving, The Franchise had been cancelled, and the Marlins were a laughingstock. So the Marlins have some experience being loathed by their fans.

Here’s what the Marlins lineup currently looks like:

1. Starlin Castro-2B

2. Martin Prado-3B

3. Christian Yelich-CF

4. Justin Bour-1B

5. JT Realmuto-C

6. JT Riddle-SS

7. Derek Dietrich-LF

8. Some Minor Leaguer-RF

9. Pitcher’s Spot

As you can see, this is a problem, especially where the outfield is concerned. Aside from Christian Yelich, there are no outfielders on the 40-man roster with big league experience. I took some liberties putting Dietrich in left field because he is a swiss army knife-type player but he is typically an infielder. As for the right fielder, there was nobody I could put in there. Maybe they could call up Magneuris Sierra, whom they acquired from the Cardinals for Ozuna. Plus, if Yelich and Realmuto are granted the trades they requested, that lineup gets even thinner. One can forgive Marlins fans for being alarmed.

It’s not uncommon for a new owner to gut his team and fill it with his guys. But just the way Jeter has been getting rid of players with minimal returns has been what has irked the Marlins faithful. But who knows? Maybe Jeter is on to something with the moves he’s made. One thing is for sure, though, if the Marlins aren’t anywhere near .500 in 2018, the torches and pitchforks will come out. What do you think of Jeter’s moves? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.