Bryce Harper with Nationals on Opening Day?

If Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson gets his wish, baseball’s top prospect, Bryce Harper, will be on the major league roster come April 5th in Chicago.  Johnson has said this before, but it was most recently reported by Jon Heyman of

It’s hard to not think about the impact that Harper’s bat in the Nationals lineup would have for the team.  Harper has a ridiculous arm and is getting better at tracking balls down in the outfield, and he’s excelled offensively at every level he’s seen so far in the minor league system, too.  Some in baseball have said Harper could be one of the best prospects in the history of baseball, drawing comparisons to Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Chipper Jones. Let’s just consider for a moment what the Nationals roster could look like on Opening Day if Harper makes the jump from Double-A to the Majors in Spring Training.

  1. Ian Desmond
  2. Jayson Werth
  3. Ryan Zimmerman
  4. Michael Morse
  5. Adam LaRoche
  6. Bryce Harper
  7. Danny Espinosa
  8. Wilson Ramos
  9. Stephen Strasburg

This is without a doubt one of the best young rosters in the game, and there is plenty of room for growth as far as talent goes in the coming years.  Most of this lineup is under club control for at least the next two years.

It’s also hard to avoid the financial implications of this deal.  If Harper breaks camp with the Nats, it starts his arbitration clock early, meaning Nationals could be forced to pay Harper a huge chunk of money a year earlier than they anticipated.  The Lerners are among the wealthiest owners in baseball, but there is a limit to what they can pay.  When you look at the players the team will have to sign to big money deals in the next few years, including Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, and Harper himself, that extra year could be the thing that keeps Harper from ending up with the New York Yankees.

It’s hard to know what will happen for sure, but as we get into Spring Training games in March and players are moved to minor league camp, it will be interesting to see if Harper’s name ever ends up on the cut list.  It seems likely that he’ll be with big league camp through most of the month, and it seems like a solid performance could force GM Mike Rizzo to listen to Johnson and bring Harper to DC to start the year.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.