Bryce Harper has been the most highly touted MLB prospect in decades. From leaving school early – high school, that is – so that he could play college baseball and get even closer to his dream of playing in the big leagues, Harper has been labeled as the next big thing. So far, he has been very good. Not great, but very good. Harper is yet to play 140 games in a regular season. He has never hit more than 22 home runs or batted higher than .274 at the end of a season. Harper has never scored 100 runs or driven in more than 60 in any given season. Is he good? Yes. Is he great? Not by a long shot. Not yet, at least. I am not saying that Harper cannot reach his potential – although I am not sure that any player would be able to live up to his hype – but as many negatives relate to Harper as positives as he is in his third season. Again, it has been another one marred by injuries. With all of that, including some recent comments where Harper basically told manager Matt Williams how to do his job and who should play what position, is it conceivable that we could see the Washington Nationals trade Bryce Harper?
Scoff, if you will. But it is not outside the realm of possibilities. And, neither should it be.
Harper sells tickets. He helps the team win games. Although, the Nats are five games over .500 without Harper, as opposed to 13-11 when he is in the lineup. He is the face of the franchise.
Then again, he is also a Scott Boras client who could bring in a small fortune in a return trade from another team. The Nationals have no problem offering big contracts, but, where Harper will still be so young at the time of his first free agent experience, it is more than possible that another team will offer Harper far more than the Nationals believe he is worth.
With that being said, is the time to trade Harper now? Is it looming? It has been reported by Ken Rosenthal that some of his teammates may resent him. It is no secret that Harper has always marched to the beat of his own drum. He has had praise heaped upon him since he was a child. Everyone has always told Harper that he is the best.
Still, although he is just in his third season, Harper is not the best player on the Nationals. Adam LaRoche hits for more power. Anthony Rendon may be a few years older than Harper, but appears to have even more promise. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and raise his batting average, but Ian Desmond has been as impressive as Harper as well over the past few years. Jayson Werth and Denard Span are still valuable contributors as well, and Ryan Zimmerman is hardly ready to step aside, despite his recent trouble staying healthy.
Like I said, Harper is a very good player. He still has the potential to be great. Deep down, I believe that he could become one of the all-time greats over the past few decades. But, his teammates don’t always vote him most popular. His managers have often criticized him. He has a tendency to say words in public that should remain thoughts in private. When it comes to Harper, you may always get a mixed bag of good and bad.
Will the Nationals trade Harper? I would say that it is highly unlikely. But, to dismiss it as complete foolishness would be, well, foolish.