That time the Nationals were interested in Chris Davis

brushback_harperIn 2011, Chris Davis was a 25-year-old hitter who toggled between the Texas Rangers and the minors. He clobbered minor league pitching, but couldn’t stick in the majors. Entering that season, the Nationals were searching for a first baseman after Adam Dunn left for the Chicago White Sox through free agency. The Nationals’ targets for a first baseman that season were, among others, Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche eventually signed with the Nationals for two years and $16 million. LaRoche’s first season was cut short to 43 games because of a torn left labrum and surgery, and Michael Morse emerged with a breakout season and filled it at first base. LaRoche then recovered and produced a 30-home run, 100-RBI, Gold Glove season in 2012. At some point in 2011, however, the Nationals were also highly interested in Davis and loved his potential, according to a team source.

Davis was eventually traded to the Baltimore Orioles in July 2011 in a now well-documented trade. Davis, now an all-star, and right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter went to the Orioles in exchange for right-handed reliever Koji Uehara and $2 million. Davis broke out this season with a mind-boggling 37 home runs before the all-star break and rose to fame. Hunter has a 2.41 ERA this season. Uehara posted a 4.00 ERA the rest of that season with the Rangers, was injured the next and is now with the Boston Red Sox.

Davis knew entering the 2011 season that season he could wind up on another team, but didn’t know who they were.

“We had heard in spring training a couple of teams but we didn’t know anything,” Davis said during a media session with other all-stars at Citi Field on Monday. “I knew I was out of options after that year and so I was figuring the team was probably going to trade me to get something for me instead of having to put me on waivers. I actually hadn’t heard anything a few weeks leading up to the trade deadline and was a little down, not because I wasn’t going to be traded, but because I was still in Triple-A and Baltimore came in at the last minute and found out I was traded and was excited for another opportunity.”

It’s always fun to imagine the combination of players who could have shared a field if the sequence of events had been different, so add this one to that list. In 2009, the Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg with the top overall pick and used their 10th overall pick on Drew Storen. Mike Trout went 25th overall in that draft, passed over by 24 teams. If things have gone differently, Bryce Harper and Trout could have been sharing the same outfield.

Or, how about the pairing in the final of Monday’s Home Run Derby: Harper and Yoenis Cespedes, a Cuban outfielder and free agent who was scouted and pursued by the Nationals in 2011.

FROM THE POST

Bryce Harper and his father, Ron, shine at the Home Run Derby, even though they finish second, writes Adam Kilgore.

The Nationals want an all-star game in Washington, Kilgore writes.

At the Midsummer Classic, there are a lot of new stars, writes Thomas Boswell.

Check out a photo gallery of the derby from Post photographer Jonathan Newton.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Bryce Harper wants to ‘do what no one else has done’ in Home Run Derby

Jordan Zimmermann on being an all-star, stiff neck

Bryce Harper to bat ninth, play center field in the All-Star Game

A prediction for the Home Run Derby

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse was off.

Harrisburg 3, New Britain 2 : Blake Treinen allowed two runs in five innings and walked two. Aaron Barrett tossed two scoreless. Jimmy can Ostrand went 2 for 4 with a walkoff homer.

Potomac 9, Salem 4: In his first start since returning from a month away with shoulder soreness, Sammy Solis struck out two, walked one and allowed only one hit over four scoreless innings. Richie Mirowski tossed two scoreless to lower his ERA to 1.60. Michael Taylor went 3 for 5 with four RBI. Mike Gilmartin drove in two.

Rome 3, Hagerstown 1: Ian Dickson allowed two runs on four hits over five innings. Bryan Lippincott went 2 for 4 and Stephen Perez went 1 for 1 with two walks.

Staten Island 7, Auburn 4: Joel Barrientos allowed four runs, two unearned, on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. James Yezzo, Cody Gunter and Andruth Ramirez each collected two hits.

Also on Nationals Journal

Home Run Derby discussion thread