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The Nationals could become sellers at the deadline

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The Washington Nationals won last night and that brought their record up to .500. They are still seven games back of the Phillies, however, and four and a half back in the Wild Card race with a whole mess of teams in front of them. Are they a talented enough team to go on a tear and make the playoffs? Sure. Is that guaranteed? Oh, heck no.

Against that backdrop it was reported yesterday that, earlier this month, the Nationals told teams that, if they faded, they might become sellers. The idea being that, by telling other teams to scout them, deals could happen in a hurry if, at the last minute, they decide to throw in the towel on 2018. Ken Rosenthal hears that the Nats will decide by the end of the weekend whether to sell off, making their series against the Marlins a pretty critical one. The trade deadline, of course, is Tuesday afternoon.

What might a Nationals selloff look like? Jeff Passan of Yahoo suggests that relievers Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, and Shawn Kelley could all be dealt, as they are all pending free agents. So too are Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams.

The biggest pending free agent on the team, however, is Bryce Harper. Rosenthal does not think that Harper will be dealt and, yes, it’s hard to see how the Nats could even pull that off. It’d be hard on the merits given that he’s making over $20 million this year and, frankly, is not having a good season. It’d also be hard politically, so to speak. While Nats fans understand he might walk in free agency this fall, they’re likely not prepared for the idea of the team dumping him. If they did, it would not be hard to imagine attendance and whatever residual fan enthusiasm existed given a selloff cratering. A trade of Harper would also presumably signal that the Nats had no intent to or no confidence in re-signing Harper to a long term deal, and it’s not at all clear that they have so resigned themselves. In light of that, a Harper trade seems far-fetched.

Then again, the notion that the Nats would be struggling to keep their heads above water while looking up at the Phillies in the Braves in the standing at the end of July seemed pretty far-fetched just a couple of months ago.

Buster Posey opts out of the 2020 season

Buster Posey has opted out
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San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has opted out of the 2020 MLB season. The Giants have issued a statement saying that they “fully support Buster’s decision. Buster is an integral part of our team and will be sorely missed, but we look forward to having him back in 2021.”

Posey and his wife are adopting identical twin girls who were born prematurely and who are currently in the NICU and will be for some time. They are stable, but obviously theirs is not a situation that would be amenable to the demands of a baseball season as it’s currently structured. Recently Posey said, “I think there’s still some reservation on my end as well. I think I want to see kind of how things progress here over the next couple of weeks. I think it would be a little bit maybe naive or silly not to gauge what’s going on around you, not only around you here but paying attention to what’s happening in the country and different parts of the country.” He said that he talked about playing with his wife quite a great deal but, really, this seems like a no-brainer decision on his part.

In opting out Posey is foregoing the 60-game proration of his $21.4 million salary. He is under contract for one more year at $21.4 million as well. The Giants can pick up his 2022 club option for $22 million or buy him out for $3 million.

A veteran of 11 seasons, Posey has earned about $124 million to date. Which seems to be the common denominator with players who have opted out thus far. With the exception of Joe Ross and Héctor Noesí, the players to have opted out thus far have earned well above $10 million during their careers. Players that aren’t considered “high risk” and elect not to play do not get paid and do not receive service time.