A few minutes ago, my jaw just dropped to the floor. On my phone was a notification that said the Astros had a blockbuster deal in place at the non-waiver trade deadline. It was a Tweet from Ken Rosenthal, who suggested that the Astros had a deal for a stud outfielder from the Washington Nationals. But similar to what happened in 2017 with the Orioles, the trade was nixed by ownership.
By now you have seen the Tweet that said the Astros had a deal in place to acquire Bryce Harper, but the Nationals' ownership group canceled the deal. That could have been the deal that could have given the Astros the extra hitting to possibly beat the Red Sox in the ALCS. On Talking Stros, we talked about how the Astros were trying to make a blockbuster deal. Now we know...
This was an instance of the Nationals thinking about their pocketbooks and not what was best for the team. They knew that if they traded Harper, people would have stopped coming to games with the move signaling a rebuild. Rosenthal hinted (subscription required) that they also feared that trading him would have made it less likely that he would re-sign. However, the writing was on the wall that he was going to leave.
As Rosenthal pointed out, the deal they could have gotten from the Astros would have been better than the compensatory pick after the fourth round when he declines his qualifying offer Monday. This reminds me of the nixed Zack Britton trade at the deadline in 2017, but this one would have had more impact on the outcome of the 2018 season.
Harper is at the point of his career where he can get a large multi-year deal for his talents. He reportedly already turned down a ten year, $300 million offer from the Nationals. The Nationals could have gotten possibly three players who could be ready faster than the early pick they can get from the team that signs Harper. When you see who was involved in the deal, you would be shocked they turned it down.
According to Rosenthal, the players involved was starter J.B. Bukauskas, catcher Garrett Stubbs, and a lower level pitcher. If given a chance, Stubbs could earn the catching job with a hot spring training. Bukauskas was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. He is projected as a top of a rotation starter, so it's surprising the Nationals didn't jump on this.
No, this does not mean the Astros will be able to sign him. This would have been a 2004 Carlos Beltran like situation, where he would have probably walked after the season. The Astros were willing to make that deal and give up 2-3 good prospects. What could have been? We will never know! Now, to get the 2019 team ready to get back to the World Series.