The team has a disappointing 52-53 record, and one source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, "The clubhouse is a mess."
One factor looming over the Nationals is the possibility of a fire sale ahead of Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, and even Bryce Harper was unsure of his future, per that report:
"Already earlier in the week, when Yahoo Sports first reported the Nationals were engaging other teams in case they decided to sell, Harper had wondered whether he would be among those leaving. The 25-year-old asked friends and confidants whether they thought the Nationals might trade him, sources said. His uncertainty was telling: Even the franchise player was confused about the Nationals' tack."
Passan reported first-year manager Dave Martinez harbors some of the blame for the clubhouse issues, while a dearth of veteran leaders beyond Max Scherzer is also at fault. And Harper's leadership was called into question after some recent comments to the media, as Passan detailed:
"J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins' All-Star catcher and a player coveted by the Nationals all winter, blooped a bases-loaded single down the right-field line for a walk-off victory. Harper's response after the game: 'If that guy was on our side, it wouldn't have happened. Tough luck.'
"A number of people inside the organization saw Harper's comment as unprofessional and potentially divisive among his teammates, according to sources."
Passan noted it's unlikely the Nationals would trade Harper, even with the superstar right fielder set to hit free agency this winter. But he noted the team could consider dealing Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Hellickson, Mark Reynolds, Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy.
The Nationals, certainly, have some major decisions ahead. Will they double down on this group and become buyers, hoping to make a late run? Will they stand pat and trust things to turn around? Or will they become sellers, looking to both shake up the clubhouse and perhaps retool in the offseason?
If the team's primary goal is to sign free agent-to-be Harper to a long-term deal this offseason, all decisions should keep that objective in mind. How the Nationals approach that goal will almost assuredly factor into their decision-making ahead of Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.