I guess Nationals players don’t think Bryce Harper is going to be returning to Washington.
"When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a grounder or overthrowing a cutoff man or throwing to the wrong base, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24. 'Write it,' one prominent Nats vet said." https://t.co/IV2rXWL6IC
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) February 16, 2019
I can’t speak to the column itself, which reads like your standard wishcasting upon the departure of a superstar – we’re better without him because now we can be fundamentally sound! – but it’s interesting that an anonymous “prominent” Nationals veteran player was willing to call out Harper in this way, especially before he’s even signed.
Without knowing who that player is, or whether he speaks for others, you can’t say there’s anything to it, but it’s not as if Harper – like Manny Machado – hasn’t had bouts of selective hustle and periodic moments of in-dugout drama. I tend to think that stuff is overblown, and also that selective hustle can actually be a smart technique for preserving the body and effectiveness over the long haul. But it’s out there that at least someone in the Nationals clubhouse wants the world to know what he thinks of Harper’s hustle, preparation, and baseball IQ.
At last check, Harper is reportedly still seeking a contract worth in excess of $300 million, and for a 26-year-old generational superstar, playing at a time of soaring revenues, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. But every little story like this, especially when things are already so frigid, has the potential to sew a little doubt in the minds of executives and owners asked to sign that check.
Of course, it’s also just possible it’s more in-fighting and drama from a Nationals clubhouse that had quite a bit of it last year.