As the Washington Nationals move into the future, they struggle with their past. How do they breakthrough and become a destination team?
The Washington Nationals failed to land a big fish his year in free agency. Not for lack of trying.
Despite large offers to Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, they—along with Aroldis Chapman—signed elsewhere this offseason. After getting fans expectations raised before the Winter Meetings, the team limped away in the public eye. Sure, they traded for Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox, but the team believed they had Chris Sale too.
A ballyhooed trade for Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star Andrew McCutchen fell flat, leaving the Buccos explaining to fans why they tried to move the face of the franchise. For Nats fans, the thought of raiding the minors for trades did not sit well. By the end of the meetings at nearby National Harbor, leaks came out saying Bryce Harper’s long-term demands were too high for the team.
For Harper and agent Scott Boras, it was news to them as they admitted to only discussing 2017 with Washington and nothing further. As with October, December has turned into a forgettable month.
What you cannot say, though, is the Nats are not complacent. The offer made to Jansen topped his deal to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although they were not tops on the Melancon bid, the team truly believed they had the goods to land both Sale and McCutchen. If they do not negotiate in good faith with Harper in the future, there will be damage to the fan base.
That is if Harper wants to stay.
Despite the highest payroll in the National League East and the second-best record in the league, why does the team struggle to get names to sign? A simple question with a complex answer.