Bryce Harper will not be a Dodger in 2018…but that's not from lack of trying.
Multiple sources confirmed to NBCLA on Tuesday morning that the Los Angeles Dodgers were indeed the "mystery team," that claimed Harper off revocable waivers after he was placed on waivers by the Washington Nationals earlier in the week.
On Saturday, August 18th, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, was the first to report that Washington had placed "a number of players on revocable waivers," including Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy.
On Monday night, news that teams had claimed Harper and Murphy was reported. Early Tuesday morning I woke up to news from a source that it was indeed the Dodgers that claimed Harper off waivers.
As I worked to confirm from an additional source that the Dodgers had claimed harper, Grant Paulsen of NBC Sports Washington, tweeted that he had also been told that the Dodgers were the 'mystery team,' that claimed him.
Minutes later, a second source, close to the Nationals organization, confirmed that it was indeed the Dodgers who claimed Harper, and told me to "stay close to the phone."
The Dodgers interest in Harper should not come as a surprise to many, as I was one of the first to report leading up to the trade deadline, that the Dodgers had "checked in on the availability of Harper, but at the time, the Nationals were still undecided what they wanted to do."
At the time, I received news from primary sources and was able to corroborate their information with separate independent sources, that the Dodgers and Nationals had "discussed" a trade involving Harper before the July 31, deadline, and that the Nationals had scouted some of the team's Major League players.
More than likely, those same names discussed, were also exchanged on Tuesday, but ultimately, the Dodgers would have been unable to take on the remaining $5 million in Harper's salary for the season if they wanted to remain under the luxury tax threshold.
In order to make a deal for Harper work, a player like Matt Kemp ($21.5 million) or Hyun-Jin Ryu ($7.83 million), would have had to go back to Washington in a deal, and it is unlikely the Nationals were interested in taking on any additional salary after shedding Murphy's remaining $4 million earlier in the day in a deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Ultimately, a deal was unable to get done by the time the exclusive 48-hour window to negotiate came to a close, and Harper will now remain with the Nationals for the remainder of the season.
Despite not acquiring Harper, by putting a waiver claim in for him, the Dodgers were also able to block the playoff teams in front of them like the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees from claiming him and potentially working out a deal with Washington.
When I first reported the prospect of the Dodgers acquiring Harper in a trade a little over three weeks ago fans got excited, therefore I can only imagine the excitement on Tuesday morning when news broke that they had claimed him off waivers.
However, expectations need to be tempered. The likelihood of the Dodgers acquiring Harper for the final six weeks of the season, while still remaining under the luxury tax threshold was always slim, and the team can still make him an offer in free agency at the end of the season if the idea of the 2015 National League MVP in Dodger Blue still appeals to them.