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Nationals reportedly vetoed Astros trade offer for Bryce Harper in July

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While there’s been no recent clarity on where free agent superstar Bryce Harper might be headed next spring, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros came very close to completing a trade for the slugger at the non-waiver deadline in July.

According to Rosenthal’s column (subscription required), Houston had offered their eighth-best prospect, right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, and two minor-league players in exchange for Harper’s services. Although the terms of the trade were worked out by July 30, Nationals’ ownership ultimately nixed the deal in the hopes that the team would close the 5.5-game gap at the top of the division and make another postseason run, hopes that were subsequently dashed by the Braves’ late-season surge to their 18th division title.

Following the club’s second-place finish in the NL East, Harper declined the Nationals’ proposed 10-year, $300 million extension. He’s all but guaranteed to decline their one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer as well, given the record-breaking contract he’s in line to receive on the open market. Should he latch onto another team, as expected, the Nats will receive a compensatory pick following the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft next June.

Even given the 26-year-old’s struggles in 2018, it’s hard not to imagine the impact his .249/.393/.496 batting line, 34 home runs, and 3.5 fWAR could have had on the defending World Champions’ playoff run, especially as they came so close to securing another berth in the Fall Classic last month. There’s still a possibility the Astros could circle back to Harper over the winter, though they’re currently projected to head into the 2019 season with George Springer, Josh Reddick, Tony Kemp, and Jake Marisnick, among a few others.

Red Sox end Astros’ 10-game winning streak

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The Red Sox salvaged the final game of their three-game home series against the Astros, winning 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. In doing so, they ended the Astros’ 10-game winning streak.

Xander Bogaerts struck the decisive blow, knocking in a run with a double in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Michael Chavis also hit another homer — his eighth of the season — while Mookie Betts collected three hits and scored three runs to raise his OPS to .899.

The Astros last lost on May 7 against the Royals, the second game of a three-game series. The Astros won the final game of that set, then swept the Rangers in a four-game series, the Tigers in three, and won the first two games against the Red Sox. It’s their second 10-game winning streak of the season, as they won 10 striaght between April 5-16, sweeping the Athletics, Yankees, and Mariners before losing the second of two games against the A’s in Oakland.

At 31-16, the Astros are slightly behind the Twins — in progress as of this writing — for the best winning percentage in the majors. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have made up some ground after ending April 13-17. They’re now 24-22, good for third place in the AL East.