Speculation over whether the Nationals would buy, sell or complete some combination of the two swirled until Tuesday, with Bryce Harper at the center. Washington had multiple trades involving multiple players, including Harper, in place Monday night, but ownership backed out, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The club then informed Harper, whose name was circulating in rumors, that he wasn’t getting moved.
“I think whenever you hear your name or see your name on stuff, you always wonder,” Harper, a free agent this winter, said Tuesday. “But I think that’s just the business end of the game. It’s part of the game, and other teams are trying to get better, and it’s just something that came up. [I’m] glad I’m still inside this clubhouse.”
The only trade the Nationals made Tuesday was sending reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Chicago Cubs for a low-level minor leaguer — and on-field performance wasn’t the main motivation behind the move. Otherwise, the Nationals stood pat. They’re 2-0 since then, beating the flailing New York Mets to a pulp, but even that didn’t come without reliever Shawn Kelley spiking his glove in frustration after giving up a three-run homer in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 25-4 win. Rizzo decided the act was worth designating Kelley for assignment Wednesday.
Kelley’s departure wasn’t part of the deadline calculus, but the Nationals are moving on without him. The rest of the team, after some careful consideration, remains intact.
“The business of baseball is not always pretty,” Lerner wrote. “These are tough decisions — decisions that our organization does not take lightly. But I believe in this team.”
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