Bryce Harper Rumors: Nationals Letting Teams Know Star Is Available via Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2018

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 25:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals runs to first base during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 25, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals have told MLB teams star right fielder Bryce Harper is available ahead of Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Monday.

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported earlier in the day the Cleveland Indians had inquired about the Nationals' willingness to move the six-time All-Star.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal followed up on Feinsand's report but threw some cold water on the rumors:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Sources confirm: #Nationals sending “feelers” out on Bryce Harper. “I’d be shocked if they do it,” one rival exec says. “They’re seeing if someone wants to go crazy.” First with the news that Harper was available: @chelsea_janes and @Feinsand.

At the very least, Washington appears prepared to cash out ahead of the deadline rather than try to reinforce its roster in hopes of getting into the playoffs. At 52-53, the Nationals are six games back in the National League East and NL wild-card race.

Granted, just because the Nationals are prepared to trade Harper doesn't mean the 2015 NL MVP will be on the move this summer.

Harper is a free agent in the offseason, so potential suitors will naturally be hesitant to give up top prospects for a half-season rental, even for a player with Harper's pedigree.

Harper's performance this year makes it even harder to gauge his value on the trade market.

He's batting .220 with 25 home runs and 62 RBI in 103 games. He's also 48th among qualified players in weighted on-base average (.355) and 52nd in weighted runs created plus (121), per FanGraphs. The fact he's slugging .439 on the road compared to .512 at Nationals Park, according to Baseball Reference, is less than comforting as well.

The 25-year-old would clearly be a difference-maker in the stretch run for a playoff contender, but his reputation arguably outweighs his on-field contributions.

While Harper will be the most interesting story in baseball to follow Tuesday, fans should be prepared for an underwhelming conclusion when the deadline passes.