Your dreams of the Nationals having to dump a disgruntled Bryce Harper probably died this morning, as the two sides reportedly resolved their arbitration-related dispute, according to Adam Kilgore. That dispute had been set for a grievance hearing tomorrow. Ken Rosenthal adds that, per the settlement, Harper will not be considered a Super Two next year (i.e., he’ll get only three arbitration years rather than four), but signed a two-year deal (in which I’m guessing he’ll get a touch more than he was otherwise scheduled to get).
While this was an interesting story to follow for reasons wholly unrelated to any possible transactions, the primary reason to follow it was that spark of a rumor last week that the Nationals were talking about a deal that would “blow the roof” off of the Winter Meetings. Given the Nats/Harper sparring, and what it would have taken to blow the roof off of the meetings that had already featured tons of huge deals, it was reasonable to suspect that Harper was being discussed in trade talks.
But was he ever in those talks?
Well, apropos of this morning’s reported settlement, Ken Rosenthal writes about the Nationals’ offseason plans. Specifically, he talks about the possibility that they would pair starter Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond – each a free agent after 2015, and each not likely to sign an extension at this point – to get a big return, and then use the cost savings to pursue someone like Max Scherzer. The trade Rosenthal says was discussed last week? Zimmermann and Desmond to the Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller. That’s a huge deal, to be sure, and it probably is the deal that was whispered about last week. For me, that doesn’t quite blow the roof off, but I suppose that was always a pretty amorphous description.
In any case, the twists and turns in this story lead us back to a place we’ve been before: the Nationals, with a huge number of impending free agents whom they can’t reasonably keep (Zimmermann, Desmond, Denard Span, Doug Fister, Tyler Clippard), are probably going to try and trade one or two, and Rosenthal questions whether maybe the Nats are just trying to shave payroll at this point. Zimmermann has been the subject of rumors all offseason long (including several into which the Cubs popped), as have Fister and Clippard, and it doesn’t sound like that’s going away.