MIAMI -- Bryce Harper sprinted from the infield to try and chase down J.T. Realmuto's bloop single, which landed just fair inside the right-field line to lead the Marlins to a 2-1 victory over the Nationals on Saturday night at Marlins Park.Harper had been playing first base as part of
MIAMI -- Bryce Harper sprinted from the infield to try and chase down J.T. Realmuto's bloop single, which landed just fair inside the right-field line to lead the Marlins to a 2-1 victory over the Nationals on Saturday night at Marlins Park.
Harper had been playing first base as part of a five-man infield to try and stave off the winning run, but he watched helplessly as the ball fell just feet away from where he would normally have played in right field.
"If that guy was on our side, it wouldn't have happened," Harper said of Realmuto after the game. "So, tough luck."
Rumors have connected the Nationals as one of the teams interested in dealing for Realmuto ever since the Marlins began trading away some of their valued position players this past offseason, and with Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, that speculation has only heightened. The Nationals began this four-game series in Miami needing a strong showing in order to convince their decision makers that they should not become sellers before the Deadline.
But Harper, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, lobbied for the Nationals to add for the stretch run as they try to overcome a six-game deficit in the National League East standings. And he has not been shy about his admiration for Realmuto on the field.
Earlier this month at Nationals Park during the NL team photo before the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, Harper jokingly placed a Nationals cap on Realmuto's head.
No team has gotten less production from their catchers than the Nationals this season, as the group entered Saturday having combined to hit .184/.272/.265 for 44 wRC+ and -0.8 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs. Meanwhile, Realmuto is batting .311/.362/.534 for a 142 wRC+ and 3.6 WAR. That would make Realmuto, who is not eligible to become a free agent until after the 2021 season, a huge upgrade for the Nationals.
But Miami's asking price starts with the Nationals' two top prospects -- outfielder Victor Robles and shortstop Carter Kieboom -- according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, and the Nats have been unwilling to meet those demands so far.
"[The Marlins] are not going to sell him cheap. We know what the return has to be on Realmuto, and we're not willing to meet that price," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM last month.
But on Saturday night, they got a nudge from their superstar to do so.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.