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Friday, July 06, 2018

Should the Nationals consider trading Harper?

Washington has lost 21 of 31 since May 31, a .323 winning percentage that’s better than only the Mets, Orioles and Royals in that time span. Maybe a question that sounds objectively crazy on its face actually isn’t: Should the Nationals, in the face of a tremendously disappointing season, trade the man who was expected to headline one of the best free-agent classes of all time this offseason?

The answer is clearly, “Not yet, obviously,” and not just because the Nationals certainly aren’t going to do anything this wild before they host the baseball world at the All-Star Game later this month. This is not something that could or should happen soon. But what if that answer changes in the next few weeks? Let’s try to find out what would need to happen for the Nats to completely change the face of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Bote Man Posted: July 06, 2018 at 03:43 PM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bryce harper, nationals, trade deadline, trades

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5706270)
Hard for a heavy pre-season favorite to raise the white flag. They're still only 6 games out of 1st, as the article notes.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5706275)
The answer is clearly, “Not yet, obviously,”
I'm glad the author got that out of the way.

I think that, in addition to falling many games behind the wild card leaders in the next 3 weeks, they would need some kind of Scherzer injury or multiple other injuries to make them consider trading Harper. Because at full strength they have enough talent to go on a miraculous August/September run. But it's a possibility.
   3. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5706277)
Ian Betteridge knows.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:42 PM (#5706288)
It's not a sterling start to Dave Martinez's managing career. If they don't turn it around, I suspect the hitting coach takes the fall this offseason and, without a solid start next year, Davey's tenure may be short.

And apparently DC is where relievers go to die. Kelvin Herrera 91 ERA+ since the trade, joining a long list of Nats acquisitions.
   5. Zach Posted: July 06, 2018 at 06:45 PM (#5706341)
Tough to send up a white flag in a year where you're spending $190 million in payroll. Does everybody else go, too, or just Harper? If Harper's gone, will people come out to see the rest of the gang?
   6. haven Posted: July 06, 2018 at 06:46 PM (#5706342)
Hard for a heavy pre-season favorite to raise the white flag. They're still only 6 games out of 1st, as the article notes.


why is trading harper raising the white flag? 0.1 war at br, trading him could lead to an improvement........ i think if you aren't resigning him you absolutely consider trading him.... of course everything depends on offers..... there may not be particularly compelling offers for a sure to be free agent having a down year........ the mvp season is falling father in the past and harper does not seem to be adjusting.......
   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 06, 2018 at 06:54 PM (#5706348)
...... the mvp season is falling father in the past and harper does not seem to be adjusting.......

Harper won the MVP in 2015. Last year he again had a MVP-caliber season, 319/.413/.595, but missed ~ 50 games after he got hurt when he slipped on the 1st base bag.
   8. QLE Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5706370)
at full strength they have enough talent to go on a miraculous August/September run


And then lose the NLDS!
   9. , Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5706377)
They can always trade him and then re-sign him.
   10. Adam Starblind Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5706388)
The fans would burn down the stadium.
   11. Bote Man Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:17 PM (#5706396)
Thanks to Comcast I missed the first 4 innings of tonight's game, but last night was symbolic of Harper's struggles this season. He swung madly at a slider down and away, then looked at a very hittable strike on the inside 1/2 of the strike zone that I've seen him KEE-LOBBER in the past. And just now he grounded meekly to the 1Bman on a changeup outside for out #1 in the 6th. I don't know how you lose your hitter's eye so much for so long, but let's keep Kevin Long out of this.

Meanwhile, another LHB by the name of Juan Soto befuddles pitchers.
   12. Hank Gillette Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:14 PM (#5706416)
The way Harper is playing this season, why would a team want to trade for him? A half season rental of a player who is having the worst season of his career?
   13. PreservedFish Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:30 PM (#5706420)
I'm buying the "bad luck" theory. He's going to break out with a crazy hot streak at some point.
   14. Hank Gillette Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:35 PM (#5706422)
It's not a sterling start to Dave Martinez's managing career. If they don't turn it around, I suspect the hitting coach takes the fall this offseason and, without a solid start next year, Davey's tenure may be short.


I know you aren’t saying that it is his fault, but it’s hard to see what Martinez could have done to make a difference. He’s not responsible for Daniel Murphy missing the first 40% of the season, Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman injured for a third of the season (so far), Matt Adams missing a month’s worth of games, and Bryce Harper having the worst season of his career. Of course, somebody has to take the blame, and like they say, you can’t fire the entire team.

I think it would be a big mistake to pull the trigger on Martinez too quickly. Perhaps they should work on acquiring more durable players. These are all position players who have been injured or recovering from surgery. Strasburg is the only front line starting pitdher who has been on the disabled list, and at this point, you pretty much have to assume that Strasburg is not going to give you a full season.
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:44 PM (#5706429)
The way Harper is playing this season, why would a team want to trade for him? A half season rental of a player who is having the worst season of his career?


Even in this disaster of a season, Harper has a 122 OPS+. And, by the way, he's still younger than Aaron Judge.
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:16 PM (#5706451)
The way Harper is playing this season, why would a team want to trade for him? A half season rental of a player who is having the worst season of his career?

Even in this disaster of a season, Harper has a 122 OPS+. And, by the way, he's still younger than Aaron Judge.
I assume that post was satire.

I hope it was, at least.
   17. Bote Man Posted: July 07, 2018 at 01:13 AM (#5706487)
The Nationals have had a confluence of bad injury luck hit them during the same stretch, and some predictably poor offensive output from their backups since they had to dig so deep down their depth chart simply to field a team for long stretches of games. It's true that even with Bryce having a down year, he's still better than many guys on other teams. The competition in the NL East has been better than anticipated; the Braves certainly were a bigger threat than many predicted and the Phillies are hanging in the mix even with their awful defensive play.

There have been a number of situations in which Bryce could have extended an inning and/or driven in runs, but instead took a poor approach at the plate and made an out. People keep bringing up BABIP and attributing that to "luck", but teams are shifting much more often on him this season and he is not adjusting. (CC: Scott Boras) I know a guy who is begging the beat reporters to cover the contributions of Kevin Long as Hitting Coach to no avail.

Maybe Harper just needs a rest and the All-Star Break is right around the corner. Can he emerge tanned, rested, and ready??
   18. QLE Posted: July 07, 2018 at 04:21 AM (#5706494)
#15-

Problem is, the combination of "OPS+ in the 120s", "plays a position that isn't high on the defensive spectrum", and "not fielding well even for that position" also describes the 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons of Ryan Howard- the fielding never did get any better, and the bat went away altogether.

Mind you, Harper is still several years younger than Howard was when that stretch started- but that still isn't a player you'd want as a rental, especially if his salary demands remain at the levels we think they are.....
   19. PreservedFish Posted: July 07, 2018 at 04:57 AM (#5706496)
Problem is, the combination of "OPS+ in the 120s", "plays a position that isn't high on the defensive spectrum", and "not fielding well even for that position" also describes the 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons of Ryan Howard- the fielding never did get any better, and the bat went away altogether.

Is this one satire too?
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 07, 2018 at 07:40 AM (#5706503)
Maybe Harper just needs a rest and the All-Star Break is right around the corner. Can he emerge tanned, rested, and ready??

Unfortunately he's currently on track to be an All-Star starter, and he wants to be in the Home Run Derby.

Obviously Harper has the potential to bounce back, but what team in its right mind would want to give him anything close to the sort of contract that Boras is angling for? And what could the Nats get for him as a rental to a team that didn't want to give them that kind of a long term contract?
   21. PreservedFish Posted: July 07, 2018 at 07:58 AM (#5706505)
It is fascinating. I believe that Boras could wring a $300M contract out of some team, but there's gotta be a part of him that wants Harper to sign a 1 year deal and then gamble on a rebound and a $500M contract next year.
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: July 07, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5706508)
Is this one satire too?
I can't tell anymore.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: July 07, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5706512)
Bryce Harper has accumulated 0.2 WAR, a total that Neifi Perez surmounted several times.
   24. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: July 07, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5706516)
They might as well move back to Montreal while they're at it.
   25. Bote Man Posted: July 07, 2018 at 10:21 AM (#5706520)
It is fascinating. I believe that Boras could wring a $300M contract out of some team, but there's gotta be a part of him that wants Harper to sign a 1 year deal and then gamble on a rebound and a $500M contract next year.

I have seen some who think the Nats will extend a Qualifying Offer to Harper. I hadn't considered that.
   26. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:41 AM (#5706551)
Maybe Harper just needs a rest and the All-Star Break is right around the corner. Can he emerge tanned, rested, and ready??
I've been assuming that he has an undisclosed injury, especially with the defensive numbers being so bad.

Or, he just has a more serious version of Reggie Sanders Syndrome (odd years good, even years not so much).
   27. Leroy Kincaid Posted: July 07, 2018 at 01:10 PM (#5706583)
but missed ~ 50 games after he got hurt when he slipped on the 1st base bag.


Non-clumsiness is a skill.
   28. Bote Man Posted: July 07, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5706587)
Non-clumsiness is a skill.

Don't be willfully ignorant. It was a rainy night and the bases were wet. It's a problem that numerous announcers have commented on, no secret. It just happened a couple weeks ago to a Nats' opponent under similar conditions.

I'll grant you, running full speed into the outfield wall is dumber than dumb, but he seems to have outgrown that propensity. If anything, he seems to be holding back effort in some cases.
   29. Hank Gillette Posted: July 07, 2018 at 02:59 PM (#5706645)
I've been assuming that he has an undisclosed injury, especially with the defensive numbers being so bad.


Which, if true, makes running him out to play centerfield when Michael Taylor doesn’t start all the more inexplicable.

How long are we going to attribute Harper’s lack of offense to undisclosed injuries? At some point, shouldn’t we just say that he is fragile and can’t stay healthy?
   30. Hank Gillette Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5706649)
The way Harper is playing this season, why would a team want to trade for him? A half season rental of a player who is having the worst season of his career?


Even in this disaster of a season, Harper has a 122 OPS+.


Because teams were walking him a lot early in the season, and he is still willing to take a walk.

And, by the way, he's still younger than Aaron Judge.


Relevant to a team signing him next year; not so much for a team looking for a rental for the rest of the season.
   31. Hank Gillette Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:09 PM (#5706651)
Don't be willfully ignorant. It was a rainy night and the bases were wet. It's a problem that numerous announcers have commented on, no secret. It just happened a couple weeks ago to a Nats' opponent under similar conditions.


Didn’t bases used to be made out of canvas, rather than the slippery when wet plastic material they use now? Especially since most players don’t seem to use metal spikes anymore, perhaps this should be a safety issue to be addressed.
   32. Hank Gillette Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:26 PM (#5706665)
Bryce Harper has accumulated 0.2 WAR, a total that Neifi Perez surmounted several times.


Position players on the Nats with more bWAR than Harper:

Trea Turner
Anthony Rendon
Michael Taylor
Matt Adams
Wilmer Difo
Juan Soto
Matt Wieters (injured after 23 games)
Mark Reynolds

+ 11 pitchers.
   33. Bote Man Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:54 PM (#5706679)
Chelsea Janes @chelsea_janes
There’s a huge cardboard box outside Bryce Harper’s locker, which is almost completely cleared out...

...because all the Nats have to clean out their lockers this weekend so clubhouse staff can prepare to host the NL All-Star Team here in two weeks.
   34. QLE Posted: July 07, 2018 at 08:37 PM (#5706819)
Is this one satire too?


Is your objection on factual grounds, or those of interpretation?

If the former, this is taken from the component breakdowns of both men's WAR on BB-REF- and it would be odd to turn against it now, given that we tend to use it as our first go-to for calculating player values.

If the latter, please offer an actual argument- yes, Harper is younger than Howard was (as I noted in the lines you didn't quote), but that age advantage is one that seems to be negated by his propensity for injuries (and, to be perfectly frank, when they accumulate as they have for him, it becomes moot whether or not they're flukes, especially if that's what he's suffering from now), and, if it's his 2015 season, please note that Rico Petrocelli also had a 10 WAR season- there comes a point where actual consistent performance matters, and, so far, he's been unable to prove that he can play consistently better than three members of my home team, all of whom would be laughed at if I were to treat them (as Harper tends to get treated) as if they're unquestionably and consistently on the level of Mike Trout.
   35. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: July 07, 2018 at 08:52 PM (#5706822)
Harper is 25, can still move, and played LAST YEAR at an MVP level, albeit for only 3/4 of the season. And I don't know how someone could look at his batting line this year and not conclude he's due for some serious BABIP regression.

At this point, any comparisons to Trout do deserve to be laughed at. But so does a comparison to mid-late career Ryan Howard.
   36. Tin Angel Posted: July 07, 2018 at 09:17 PM (#5706833)
Nats fans- how about Andrew McCutcheon and Hunter Strickland for Harper?
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: July 07, 2018 at 09:34 PM (#5706840)
Harper is 25, can still move, and played LAST YEAR at an MVP level, albeit for only 3/4 of the season. And I don't know how someone could look at his batting line this year and not conclude he's due for some serious BABIP regression.


I'd say his 2017 was more all-star level than MVP level. He's only played at an MVP level once.
   38. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: July 07, 2018 at 09:44 PM (#5706841)
Well, Votto was the only hitter in the NL last year who clearly outhit him PA for PA, and I think if you gave Harper another 150 PAs, he would've been near the top of the voting. But I won't argue too much. His 2017 doesn't compare to his 2015.
   39. Bote Man Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:03 PM (#5706865)
Nats fans- how about Andrew McCutcheon and Hunter Strickland for Harper?

Strickland would never survive.
   40. Swoboda is freedom Posted: July 08, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5706918)
Well, Votto was the only hitter in the NL last year who clearly outhit him PA for PA, and I think if you gave Harper another 150 PAs, he would've been near the top of the voting. But I won't argue too much. His 2017 doesn't compare to his 2015.

Very easy to say, harder for him to do. He has only 2 years with over 600 AB and one with 597. He hasn't exactly been an iron man out there.
   41. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 08, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5706966)
Votto was the only hitter in the NL last year who clearly outhit him PA for PA


Giancarlo Stanton, anybody?
   42. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 08, 2018 at 04:19 PM (#5706980)
Votto was the only hitter in the NL last year who clearly outhit him PA for PA


Unless you qualify that for people who has more batting runs than him, OK. But JD Martinez for example out hit him PA for PA. Harper had .069 batting runs per PA, Martinez had .085. So did Rhys Hoskins.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: July 08, 2018 at 09:34 PM (#5707062)
I know you aren’t saying that it is his fault, but it’s hard to see what Martinez could have done to make a difference.

Right, not making any comment on Martinez's actual performance as a manager to date. But if this high-priced team disappoints this year, remains a high-priced team next year and gets off to another sluggish start ... pressure will be on and of course he has no past WS or anything to point to.

On Harper ... 2015 vs 2017 vs 2018 (let's skip 2016!)

HR%: 6.4 5.9 5.5
SO%: 20.0 20.1 23.5
BB%: 19.0 13.8 19.1
G/F: 0.67 0.69 0.67
IP%: 54 60 51
LD%: 33 27 25
HR/FB: 20.0 17.2 17.5
BABIP: 369 356 230

That's not hugely different, especially 2017 vs 2018 -- I'm surprised it's as close to 2015 as it is. A little bump in K%, maybe a little too non-aggressive for that 51 IP% but, when he hits it, he's hitting FBs at the same rate and getting HRs on them at the same rate. Most of his is BABIP failure, some of which may be due to LD%.

And what, it never occurred to anybody to shift on Harper before this season?

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