These reports about the Nationals clubhouse aren't good

Chris Lingebach
July 30, 2018 - 5:06 pm
Bryce_Harper

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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The Nationals needed to take three of four from the Marlins, as far as reports go, in order to avoid being 'sellers' at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

That didn't happen. While they got the weekend started off right, taking the first two games in Miami, the Nats stumbled through the remainder of the weekend and wound up splitting the series.

Since then, there's been little good news involving the Nats on the MLB trade rumors front. Jeff Passan of Yahoo brings the fire and brimstone, with sources telling him "the clubhouse is a mess."

Some of the blame, they said, falls on first-year manager Dave Martinez, who replaced the popular Dusty Baker when Nationals ownership declined to renew his contract after back-to-back NL East championships. While Martinez has forged good relationships with a number of the Nationals’ stars, including Bryce Harper, a number of players feel marginalized, according to sources.

One example of a fractured clubhouse, Passan says, came after catcher J.T. Realmuto – in whom the Nats have long been interested – walked off the Marlins on Saturday. Bryce Harper remarked with the following after the game: "If that guy was on our side, it wouldn't have happened. Tough luck."

A number of people inside the organization saw Harper’s comment as unprofessional and potentially divisive among his teammates, according to sources. Though all acknowledged the seed of truth in it, they also wondered why the Nationals would need Realmuto to win when they haven’t done so with a surfeit of talent already.

Regardless of his free agency status after the season, or interest in him by contenders around the league, it doesn't appear the Nats will be willing to part with Harper.

But Washington may still engage in a partial sell-off, with relievers Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley and Ryan Madson all due to hit free agency after the season.

Unfortunately for the Nats, this may be the wrong year to be sellers in the reliever market.

Even amid this buyer/seller identity crisis, Washington may still be pushing for Realmuto, though the Marlins reportedly declined an offer that would have netted them top Nats prospect Victor Robles or catcher Spencer Kieboom.

So, to recap: The Nats' clubhouse might be a mess; despite having plenty of bullpen assets to sell, the reliever market is flooded; and, their one free-agent-to-be everyone wants, they're not willing to deal. Meanwhile, as Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline draws closer, the Nats sit stationary Monday night, unable to move one game definitively closer to being buyers or sellers.

Alas, there is one bit of good news to report.

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