Washington Nationals GM shuts down Bryce Harper trade rumors

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Bryce Harper isn't going anywhere.

The Washington Nationals were reportedly listening to trade offers on their superstar outfielder, but nothing materialized prior to the 4 p.m. EST non-waiver trade deadline Tuesday, meaning Harper will play the remainder of the season with the club before becoming a free agent at season's end.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told The Washington Post he went sleepless Monday night agonizing over the direction of his team and potential trades, but ultimately elected to stay the course with the majority of his roster.

"Bryce is not going anywhere," Rizzo texted the Post. "I believe in this team."

Rizzo was talking with multiple teams Monday about the possibility of moving Harper, but apparently shut down trade talks later that night after he wasn't blown away by any offers, according to The Washington Post.

Harper, who is making $21.63 million this year, is expected to sign one of the most lucrative free-agent contracts in baseball history this winter. The 25-year-old could sign a deal upwards of $350 million over 10 years or more, which would be unprecedented.

Bryce Harper

By not trading Harper for a king's random now, Rizzo is risking Harper walking away from the club for nothing, should the six-time All-Star decide to move on. Surely, the Nationals will offer Harper a new contract, but it could be laughable compared to what the former MVP will be tendered from some of the big-market teams, such as the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite having a stacked roster for a number of years now, Washington has failed to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs in four chances since Harper was promoted to the majors. After clinching the National League East title the past two seasons, Washington has struggled mightily this year, posting a 52-53 record - 5 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies - heading into play Tuesday.

To make matters worse, Harper is enduring one of the worst seasons of his professional career, hitting only .220 while on pace to set a new career high in strikeouts. 

Still, he's one of the most electrifying players at the plate in the majors, as evidenced by his raw display of power at this year's home run derby. Harper edged Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber in the final round of the event to clinch the derby crown in front of his home fans at Nationals Park.

“We have some of the best fans in all of baseball, and to be able to that with my family out there, that’s an incredible moment, not only for me but for the organization and the Nationals fans,” an emotional Harper said following his triumph as baseball's home run champ.

There's no doubt Harper's free agency will be the biggest storyline in the majors heading into the 2019 season, and only time will tell if Rizzo's gamble pays off, and Harper decides to take a hometown discount to remain with the organization that drafted him with the first selection in the 2010 draft.

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