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Will Bryce Harper be traded? GM says no

Nats exec makes it known the star slugger is staying put
MLB.com

After 12 hours of speculation that Bryce Harper 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."

After 12 hours of speculation that Bryce Harper 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.

Video: WSH@MIL: Harper crushes a 3-run homer to right field

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."

Tweet from @chelsea_janes: Mike Rizzo just reached out with this message: "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.

Tweet from @mike_petriello: Teams everyone expects to be in on Harper: PHI, NYY, LAD, HOUTeam that desperately needs him: CLETeams that really don't need him: BOS, MILTeam that would be really, really fun: OAKTeam that would provide us joy in this dark, unforgiving world: COLDo it, Dinger.

• 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 Victor Robles 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.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Hunch among some #Nationals officials is that team will stand pat, maybe trade a potential FA reliever such as Shawn Kelley, but that���s it. Bryce Harper is an ownership call. Team only 5 1/2 out. But WAS can trade Harper and improve the club. Here���s why: https://t.co/okd2mXmUsk {{field}}lt;/a>

• Speaking of standing pat, Collier chimes in to say that approach seems to be the case, especially regarding any "major moves," based on what he's hearing from sources within the organization.

Tweet from @JamalCollier: My sense this morning from people within the Nationals organization is that they expect to stand pat today. Doesn���t seem like they���re ready to pull the trigger on any major moves right now

• In an intriguing nugget, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that one club in touch with the Nats heard Washington may actually have gone as far as lining up deals for multiple players last night, including Harper, but that ownership "pulled the plug."

Tweet from @jorgecastillo: At least one team in touch with the Nationals heard the club had deals "lined up" for multiple players, including Bryce Harper, but got the sense ownership pulled the plug late last night.

• 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.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: rivals continue to believe bryce harper is long shot to be traded. nats are only 5.5 games out & they'd risk fan revolt. also, they wouldn't get haul as rental. o's did well getting yusniel plus 4 for machado. but market is better for a ss/3B & manny was hitting 100 points higher

• 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.

Tweet from @jcrasnick: There's going to be a lot of Bryce Harper hysteria out there today, but the chances of him being moved by 4 p.m. are extremely remote, sources say. (If this is wrong and he's in another uniform in 6 hours, feel free to tweet me). #Nationals

• 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.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: .@JimBowdenGM : ���Very slim��� chance Bryce Harper is dealt today; even if he is, #Nationals will still push to win in 2018. pic.twitter.com/eDIxfmmxiI

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

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Harper still seems unlikely to be traded, but some rivals suggest the team to go for it should be Philly: 1. they have the $, threshold space. 2. they tried for Adam jones and other OF. 3. they are in 1st place. 4. they're expected to go hard for harper and/or machado this winter

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.
 

Jason Catania is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayCat11.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper