Lidge: Nationals Could Be Better Without Harper

Brad Lidge explained why the Nationals might be better without Bryce Harper – and why the Phillies were smart not to chase Manny Machado

Zach Gelb
February 20, 2019 - 11:30 am
Bryce Harper Washington Nationals

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The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly the favorite to land Bryce Harper, which begs the question: How will their NL East counterparts, the Washington Nationals, fare without the former NL MVP and six-time All-Star?

According to Brad Lidge, just fine. 

“I honestly think the Nationals might be better this year without Bryce,” Lidge told Zach Gelb, who was filling in as host of Ferrall on the Bench. “That sounds weird to say that, and I know that Bryce is such an incredibly important player for that franchise, but they went out and made some great moves this offseason. That rotation is as good as any rotation – especially in the National League, maybe in the game – when you look at that 1-2-3 punch if (Patrick) Corbin is able to deliver.”

Corbin, 29, signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Nationals in December. He will join Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg atop the rotation.

“They’ve got a fantastic rotation 1-through-5, the bullpen is great, and I think their offense is going to be fine,” Lidge said. “I honestly think the Nationals are going to be fine with or without Bryce. And the truth is, not having to spend that kind of money on Bryce will allow them to build up in other areas and not have to worry about the stress of Bryce’s contract.”

The Phillies, meanwhile, would love to add Harper – and so would their fans, especially after seeing the franchise miss out on Manny Machado.

Only Lidge thinks the Phillies didn’t “miss out” on anything.

“In my opinion, giving Manny Machado 10 years, $300 million – I applaud the Padres, but I don’t think any other team in baseball was valuing Manny Machado at that price,” he said. “So for the Phillies to not have to go there on Manny, I don’t think they’ve missed out on him. I think they made a smart move and didn’t go that crazy for Manny. That was smart. The fans need to understand that.”

If the Phillies don’t sign Harper, they could sign Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.

“They might be able to be just as good,” Lidge said. “Look at the talent they’ve landed there offensively this offseason. They’ve gotten a lot better already, and they could have a super bullpen next year if they got Kimbrel. They’ve already got David Robertson. Obviously (Jean) Segura, (Andrew) McCutchen came over there. So yes, it would be great for them to land Bryce – they certainly could use a great, dangerous left-handed hitter – but there are other ways for the Phillies to get a lot better still, even if they miss out on Bryce. 

“Now that being said, I don’t know if the fans are going to see it that way,” Lidge continued. “I think the fans are going to say it’s ‘Bryce-or-bust’ on this offseason. Even if the Phillies get McCutchen, Segura, David Robertson, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel – even if they get all five of those guys – I still think the fans are going to be sore that they didn’t land Bryce Harper.”