Bryce Harper was nearly an Astro.
Instead the deal, which would have dramatically aided Houston’s quest for back-to-back World Series titles, as nixed by Nationals ownership before the non-waiver trade deadline, The Athletic reported Saturday.
The team had agreed on the framework of deal that would have shipped Harper to the Astros for three minor league prospects, including righty J.B. Bukauskas and possibly catcher Garrett Stubbs to Washington. The pair is two of the Astros’ top-15 prospects.
Instead, ownership balked at the deal and the Nationals will receive just a fourth-round pick in 2019 after Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 deal to remain in Washington at the end of the season and it is unlikely he will re-sign there.
There had been reports near the July 31 deadline that the Nationals were interested in moving Harper, before general manager Mike Rizzo declared that “Bryce is not going anywhere. I believe in this team.” According to The Athletic, the deal with the Astros was in place the day prior to the deadline before it fell apart. The Athletic report speculated ownership might have feared trading Harper would hurt their relationship with them.