WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals said all the right things about continuing to compete for a playoff spot, but in making two deals on Tuesday it appears as if they are waving the white flag on the 2018 season.
The Nationals, who begin a three-game series with the Phillies on Tuesday night, sent second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Chicago Cubs for minor league infielder Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named later or cash.
Washington also sent first baseman Matt Adams to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations.
In addition, there were reports that the Nationals placed all-star outfielder Bryce Harper on waivers, but pulled him off after he was reportedly claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Nationals began Tuesday 62-63, 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the National League East and 6 1/2 behind the Phillies.
Murphy, Adams and Harper can be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
Before Tuesday night's game, Harper was asked if ownership has packed it in on the season with 37 games remaining.
"I don't think ownership has given up on us at all," Harper said. "If they were going to give up on us, it would have been a month and a half ago."
Harper says it is business as usual for him.
"I have been part of this organization for seven years and come in and do my job every day," he said. "I have no fear of being traded or let go on waivers or anything like that."
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler didn't want to say too much about the deals, but he certainly didn't appear broken up about not having to face Murphy or Adams.
"My first thought and first reaction was how that changed our game plan for tonight, because you are not accounting for two very, very dangerous hitters," Kapler said before the game at Nationals Park.
Murphy missed the first few months of the season while recovering from knee surgery. He is batting .300 with six home runs and 29 RBIs. In 600 career plate appearances against the Phillies, he is hitting .313 with 12 home runs, 72 RBIs and an .863 OPS.
This season, Adams is hitting .257 with 18 home runs and 48 RBIs. Against the Phillies this season, he is 3 for 10 with two home runs.
Phillies catcher Wilson Ramos, who played with Murphy in 2016 with Washington, said the trade caught him off-guard.
"I was surprised when I saw those names," Ramos said. "… It is very hard, especially right now, because they are trying to make the playoffs and they trade two of their best players."
Like Harper, Nationals first-year manager Dave Martinez tried to stay positive, but he was also candid when asked his reaction.
"It is tough," Martinez said. "Those two consummate professionals, guys I got to know personally, it's tough."
Martinez remains optimistic
"We have to move forward," he said. "We have six weeks to make things right."