In a season that looks lost for the Washington Nationals, it’s time to start experimenting. One of these experiments should be Bryce Harper at first base.
The Washington Nationals 2018 season now appears to be completely lost. It’s time for the team to experiment with a few new things down the stretch to prepare for 2019, and one of these should be trialing Bryce Harper over at first base.
At Spring Training this year, Harper was seen taking reps at first, but never actually got into a game at the position. But he was also spotted getting more groundballs there before a game against the Boston Red Sox in July.
Now might finally be the time to try and give him a start there down the stretch in September after part-time first-baseman Matt Adams was dealt this month. It makes a lot of sense for both parties moving forward.
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Let’s start off with the short-term benefits for the Nationals. Putting Harper at first will allow the team to get a good look at top prospect Victor Robles in the outfield, and how he plays with Juan Soto and Adam Eaton.
All three are contracted to the team for several more years, and if Harper doesn’t re-sign, then it’s almost certainly the trio they’d roll with to open 2019. They could also get Michael Taylor time out there too, but it makes more sense to get Robles accustomed to the majors more so than getting Taylor more reps.
Given this outfield logjam, it makes sense for the Nats to investigate whether stationing their superstar at first base long-term is viable. Given that they almost certainly want to have a crack at re-signing him, knowing he would be adequate at first would affect their off-season plans.
If it’s clear that he’s not going to be good enough there, and he re-signs with the team, then it could mean the team actively looks to deal Eaton or Robles. Or, in an extreme scenario, it may mean that they don’t pursue him at all, but given his superstar ilk and the front office’s fondness towards him, that part seems unlikely.
However, if he shows that he’s comfortable there, then they may look to keep him, Eaton, Soto, and Robles as an outfield rotation with Harper spelling Ryan Zimmerman at first base. With Zimmerman in the latter part of his career, it also gives Harper his long-term home with the team if he signs a mega-deal for around 10 years.
Now, with all these team benefits, why should Bryce Harper be willing to co-operate? It’s simple. It makes him a much more attractive option in free agency, for the Nats, or anyone else out there. There are several teams out there with crowded outfield situations but were he to add another position to his arsenal, it might make him a little more appealing.
The New York Yankees would certainly be keeping an eye on the former MVP should he see some starts at first. Currently, they’re trotting out a combination of Luke Voit and Greg Bird at the position, which hardly strikes fear into opposing pitchers.
With these last 31 games pretty much meaningless towards 2018, the Washington Nationals need to find some way to be productive with them. Bryce Harper being a first-baseman is far from the worst idea to try out in the final month of the season.