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Indians check in on availability of Bryce Harper

MLB.com @jonmorosi

The Indians and Nationals have communicated recently regarding a possible Bryce Harper trade, sources told MLB.com on Monday, but the discussions have yet to gather momentum.

Even as the Nationals began play Monday with a six-game deficit in both the National League East and the NL Wild Card race, the price tag on Harper remains high, the sources said.

The Indians and Nationals have communicated recently regarding a possible Bryce Harper trade, sources told MLB.com on Monday, but the discussions have yet to gather momentum.

Even as the Nationals began play Monday with a six-game deficit in both the National League East and the NL Wild Card race, the price tag on Harper remains high, the sources said.

In any deal for Harper, the Nationals likely would ask for multiple pitchers to help rebuild a rotation that includes pending free agents Gio Gonzalez and Jeremy Hellickson. And it's difficult to imagine the Indians trading right-handers Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber -- their No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline -- for a rental player.

Harper, 25, is tied for second in the NL with 25 home runs, but his .842 OPS is below his career average of .895.

Still, even Harper's less-than-usual production would be an improvement over the .723 OPS Cleveland's right fielders (Brandon Guyer, Tyler Naquin, Lonnie Chisenhall, Melky Cabrera, Greg Allen and Rajai Davis) have posted this year.

Sources say the Nationals will listen to offers for their pending free-agent relievers: Shawn Kelley, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson. However, the Nats are not ready to begin a rebuild and therefore have continued their longstanding efforts to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. Realmuto is not due to become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network. He has also covered baseball for FOX Sports, the Detroit Free Press, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper