Bryce Harper rumors: Dodgers offered Yasiel Puig to Nationals in an August waiver trade
The Nationals pulled Harper back on trade waivers after the two sides couldn't work out a deal
Despite Manny Machado being a free agent and several big-name players be available on the trade market, the 2018-19 offseason is going to revolve around Bryce Harper. The just turned 26-year-old former NL MVP is a free agent and agent Scott Boras has already started his hype campaign. He calls it "Harper's Bazaar." For real.
It's still too early to know where Harper is heading -- that won't be decided for weeks, maybe even months given Boras' familiar strategy of waiting out the market as long as possible with his star clients -- but we do know the Dodgers tried to acquire him at the deadline. , but the two sides couldn't work out a deal, so the Nationals pulled him back and kept him the remainder of the season.
The Dodgers also don't have a glaring need for an outfielder — their crowded depth chart includes Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor — but that didn't stop them from expressing interest in acquiring Harper before the nonwaiver trade deadline in July and again in August when they claimed him off waivers before the waiver trade deadline. The Dodgers offered Puig in a trade, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, but the two sides could not strike a deal.
Harper became a free agent after the season while Puig would've remained with the Nationals as an arbitration-eligible player in 2019. The Dodgers were offering one season plus two months of Puig for two months of Harper, more or less. Harper did out-hit Puig this past season (133 OPS+ to 120 OPS+), but Puig was the more valuable player overall (2.7 WAR to 1.3 WAR) because the defensive stats crushed Harper. They didn't like his defense at all as he shifted between right and center.
It's worth noting this is not the first time the Dodgers have offered Puig in a trade for another big name outfielder. Max Muncy's emergence has moved Bellinger into the outfield, further crowding things -- so it shouldn't be a surprise if they continue to push Puig in trade offers this winter., which obviously did not happen. The Dodgers are very deep in outfielders --
Puig had a very productive postseason -- he hit .300/.375/.480 in the team's 16 postseason games -- and it's impossible to know how the Dodgers would've fared with Harper in their lineup instead. Things could've been better, or they could've been a whole worse.
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