At the start of the 2018 season, the Washington Nationals were expected to have an easy campaign to the postseason. Their only competition was supposed to be the New York Mets (if they could keep their starters healthy.) However, as the season approaches the July 31st, non-wavier trade deadline the Nats enter a position they haven’t been in since 2011.
The Nats have a record of 51-51 and facing off against the Miami Marlins in a four-game set. This weekend series against the Marlins represents a critical point in the 2018 season. If the Nationals can not find a way to win this series they must reevaluate. As the standings currently sit the Nats are 7 games behind the NL East Division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nats still have an opportunity to turn it around but with Stephen Strasburg placed on the DL once again the window is closing.
If the Nationals decided to change course and become sellers they have some very big trade chips. Relievers like Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley, and Ryan Madson can bring back significant returns for a club that has a good lineup. Adding some young players to this veteran-laden lineup can infuse some life back into a struggling ballclub. Now no matter how far the Nats GM Mike Rizzo strips the ballclub down Bryce Harper isn’t going anywhere this season.
Closing Windows on Harper
The Nationals had a chance to place themselves in a great position to market a potential rekindling with Bryce Harper following the season. However, if the Nats finds themselves as sellers that may make that goal much harder. Scott Boras represents Harper and will not take a deal before hitting the market. And once Harper became a free agent no “Hometown Discount” would ever be an option. While I do expect the Nationals to make a serious run at Bryce in the offseason he is their biggest draw in terms of tickets and merchandise sales. Harper knows what he means to this franchise on the field. But if they become sellers it will be time for the team to market themselves to Bryce. To let Harper know just what his remaining a lifelong National would mean to the franchise. At the end of the day, Harper is going to take a page from the Jerry Maguire playbook and say “Show Me The Money.”
Again, this weekend is of massive importance for the Washington Nationals to determine the rest of their 2018 season. If the Nats decide to make moves they have the potential to pivot quickly with some talent in the minor leagues. If they decide to stand pat they also have the ability to add on. But this four-game set against the Marlins is the most important series thus far for the 2018 Washinton Nationals.