Will Bryce Harper be traded? GM says no

Nats exec makes it known the star slugger is staying put

July 31st, 2018

After 12 hours of speculation that might be on the move in advance of today's non-waiver Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made it clear that won't be the case, telling MLB.com's Jamal Collier in no uncertain terms that Harper will not be traded today.
Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was first to break the news, with Rizzo emphatically stating, "Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team."
This seemingly puts an end to days of speculation and conflicting reports about Washington's plans for Harper. Rumors had ramped up late Monday night that the Nats were letting teams know Harper was available, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
Given all that goes along with trading a franchise face like Harper, a deal always was unlikely, but it at least appeared to become a distinct possibility for an underachieving Nationals team that is 52-53 and five-and-a-half games out of a National League postseason spot entering Tuesday.
The 25-year-old outfielder is a free agent after the season, which has been disappointing by his former MVP's standards. While Harper does have 25 home runs and an NL-leading 84 walks, he is slashing .220/.369/.473.

If you want to rehash some of the bigger rumors surrounding Harper over the past several hours, here's a rundown:
• The latest and most emphatic news? Rizzo might have put an end to the chatter on this topic, telling Janes: "Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team."

• If you're looking for a quick breakdown of potential Harper landing spots based on team needs, MLB.com's Mike Petriello covered this.

• Here's why the Nationals should deal Harper, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in a piece for The Athletic (subscription required). It involves replacing him in the outfield with top prospect and proceeding to make a deal for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto -- whom Washington long has coveted -- to improve its weakest position.
Rosenthal, though, notes that the Nationals might wind up standing pat on Harper, indicating that a decision on that front would have to come down from ownership.

• An actual Harper trade looks like a longshot, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who points out the Nats are still in the thick of the postseason race and that a return -- again, Harper is a rental -- wouldn't necessarily be worth the potential fan backlash in D.C.

• ESPN's Jerry Crasnick weighs in with a similar thought on the "Harper hysteria," putting the chances of a deal as "extremely remote," according to his sources.

• That matches up with MLB Network Radio host and former big league general manager Jim Bowden's take that there's a "very slim" possibility Harper is swapped today.

• But if Harper were to get moved, Heyman follows up by suggesting that the Phillies just might be the team to go for it.

Philadelphia leads the NL East -- the Nationals' division -- and has both the outfield need and financial resources to cover the remainder of Harper's $21.6 million salary for 2018. Plus, the Phillies might feel that landing Harper now could help their chances to sign him to a long-term contract when he's a free agent this winter.
• What other clubs could be in play for Harper? Buster Olney of ESPN has four more contending candidates: the Indians, Cubs, Dodgers and D-backs.