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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.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”

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