1) What type of message does it send?
The 2015 season began with World Series aspirations. Trading Strasburg now, like the Detroit Tigers trading David Price, would signal the beginning of a minor tear down in the nation’s capital city. No one was pleased with how the 2015 season played out for the Nationals, least of all MVP Bryce Harper.
The Nationals have to stay aggressive in their pursuit of a title. While the window is still open, it is definitely beginning to shut. The Nationals do still have a great core group of players in Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Wilson Ramos. Players like Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are not getting any younger, though. This is a team that is built to win now, not wait another three years for prospects to develop.
Then there is the message a move like this would send to Harper. The front office must be doing everything in its power to keep the 23-year-old MVP happy. A trade of Strasburg this winter, unless it brought back another player who would slot right into the starting lineup, is not a move that would make Harper happy. Signing Harper to a long-term deal is going to be difficult enough as it is. A lot went down in 2015 that will leave a sour taste in Harper’s mouth. The 2016 season needs to start off on the right foot for Harper and the management team.