The non-waiver trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and there will likely be a number of trades as the clock winds down. But there’s one player we know won’t be involved in any moves on Tuesday: Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, and made his Harper trade intentions clear: it’s not happening.
Mike Rizzo just reached out with this message:
"Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team."
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 31, 2018
Speculation had been building about whether the Nationals would put Harper on the block, especially with the team continuing to struggle in a surprisingly competitive National League East. But it reached a fever pitch on Monday when Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted that the Nats were making Harper available.
According to a source, the Nationals are making it known to other teams that Bryce Harper is indeed available.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2018
It’s hard to know if the Nationals were ever serious about making him available. They could have leaked that information to gauge the market. Or maybe Rizzo and team owner Mark Lerner sat down and had a conversation about the team’s chances in the last two months of the season, and one of them backed off.
Regardless of how or why it happened, Rizzo made it clear that Harper goes nowhere because he still believes in the Nationals’ chances to make it to the playoffs. And he should. The Nats are just 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East, and 5.5 games out of the NL wild-card. Teams have made up larger deficits in less time. The 2007 Philadelphia Phillies trailed the first place New York Mets by seven games with 17 left to play, and they made it up and ended up winning the NL East.
The Nationals have 57 games left to play, and 33 of those games are against NL East teams. The division race is far from over. And with Rizzo pledging his commitment to Harper and publicly trumpeting his belief in the Nationals, maybe we’ll see the dramatic turnaround that Nationals fans (and players and employees) have been hoping for all year.
– – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Jeff Passan: Astros reveal their character in trade for closer Roberto Osuna
• 49ers’ Richard Sherman rips Jerry Jones and his ‘plantation mentality’
• College hoops scandal is far from over: 5 pressing questions
• Pat Forde: 40 things to know about the college football schedule