Washington Nationals: Five potential pitfalls for 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Bryce Harper /
4 of 6

Bryce Harper distraction

We aren’t even through this off-season and the 2018 signing period has already taken over baseball. Bryce Harper will lead a star-studded free agent class in 10 months, which could hang heavy over this team.

Just down the road from Nationals Park, Washington Redskins players have been fielding Kirk Cousins-related questions for two and a half years.

That’s not the reason they went 7-9 this season, but it certainly had to wear on Cousins and the team. Every pass became a litmus test for his pending contract. And when the losses began to pile up, people began to wonder about the future, rather than how to fix the current situation.

Harper is going for history. He seemingly wants a mega-deal, so he will certainly be putting plenty of pressure on himself throughout the season. Like any player, he will suffer through slumps this season, and fans and media members will murmur: “Is he worth it?” Can Harper focus with all the noise around Nats Park? Can the team focus knowing there is a good chance the best player will be in a different uniform next year?

Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez are also up for free agency after the season. Several core players could be inking deals elsewhere, which could fracture the clubhouse chemistry if things go awry.