As the Washington Nationals face Bryce Harper’s contract year, it is time to see what life is like without him. Here is a closer look.
If you’ve been active on Twitter, or any social media platform for that matter, then you’ve seen the comments. “Future Yankee”. The two words that sit in the back of every Nationals fans mind. It’s a nagging fear that never goes away. No one wants to be the organization that cultivates then loses a once-in-a-generation talent.
Let’s take a step back. What do we know about the situation?
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Well, Harper is a possible $500 million player. He is represented by super agent Scott Boras and the Lerner family has a tendency to balk at spending money despite being among the richest people to ever own a baseball team. That, in all honesty, looks bad.
A team like the New York Yankees, based on spending history, would likely be willing to pay Harper more than the Nationals. The Yankees are also poising themselves to be a powerhouse. The possible addition of Harper is, and should be, terrifying to anyone with allegiance to a different organization.
However, I’m not all that worried.
This season was a testament to how deep the Nationals are in the outfield. Just about everyone that policed the grass got hurt , there was one resounding benefit. Experience.
Think about it, if Harper, Jayson Werth, and Adam Eaton had all maintained their health we would have never seen the emergence of Brian Goodwin, the resurrection of Michael Taylor and certainly not a sneak peak of Victor Robles. Not to mention glimpses of defensive brilliance from Andrew Stevenson or the under-the-radar pick up of Howie Kendrick.
As it stands today, the starting Nationals outfield next season will consist of, hopefully, Harper in right, Taylor in center, and Eaton in left, a position he’s much more of an asset in.
Throughout the season this arrangement will change of course. Robles will be back up at some point, Kendrick may be re-signed and there’s still talks about Werth’s return in a lesser role. Someone will get hurt and there is also the matter of trades.
Taylor and Goodwin are both very viable trade pieces and we will probably see one of them get moved, after all the Nationals do need pitching, both starting and relieving.
There is also the chance that, if they think there’s they’ll lose Harper, he may be traded. This would not only be huge, it could help repopulate a depleted farm system.
Personally, I’m preparing for the post-2018 Nationals to be a Harperless team. That way, if he stays, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.
I’m also not that worried about the prospect of having to go on without him. Eaton will be back for multiple years. Robles will eventually find a spot starting everyday, and Goodwin or Taylor should stick around. However, if Harper moves on, the Nationals front office has to make one thing a priority, lock up Anthony Rendon. A man, who with a Harper-like personality, might be regarded as another once in a generation player.
The window isn’t closing as fast as everyone says it is.