Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wouldn't publicly rule out trading Bryce Harper ahead of the July 31 trade deadline during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies.
One week ago, the organization was celebrating its successful campaign as hosts of the mid-summer classic. Today, it faces questions of whether to turn the page on its homegrown superstar of eight years.
"We're going to do what we have to do to better this team for 2018 and beyond," he said. "Harp's one of the superstars of the game and he's a guy that is near and dear to my heart personally, and is in Washington, D.C., and one of the great players in the game."
Rizzo has always maintained publicly that no deal is entirely off the table. For the right price, anyone is available.
But the non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, and scrutiny on the Nationals – who sit seven games back in the NL East with 62 regular season games to play – has intensified over whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Rizzo was asked, unrelated to any specific player, if it's a no-brainer to try and move an impending free agent whom the organization has no intention of re-signing.
"If it improves your club for the now and for the future, you certainly have to consider it," he said. "And I rarely take into account about the free agent leaving, that you have less of a chance of re-signing him if you wanted him. To me, it was shown, like the (Aroldis) Chapman situation with the Yankees – they traded him away and they re-signed him the next year. Those things can happen all the time with free agents."
"I think the free agent question is, if you're not in a long-term plan, which means you're going to be a free agent at the end of the season, then you improve the club for '18 and beyond and lengthen your farm system and deepen your chances to make a run down the road," he said. "I think you have to consider all aspects and we certainly will. We have in the past. We've been buyers at the deadline, we've been sellers at the deadline, and we've been a mixture of buying and selling at the deadline, and I don't see that changing moving forward this year."
"You guys are talking like we’re looking to 2019," Rizzo said later. "I'm looking to 2:30 today when we play the Brewers."