Bryce Harper is young. Observations that Bryce Harper is young are about as fresh as observations that Jamie Moyer is old. But, just to put this in perspective, the last time the Pirates finished over .500 was 1992, and their subsequent playoff run came to an end on October 14. Two days later, Bryce Harper was born.
Maybe that doesn't make Bryce Harper seem that young, because to me, the last time the Pirates were good feels like forever ago, so Bryce Harper was born forever ago, minus two days. But Bryce Harper is 19 years old, and he's trying to make the Nationals' roster out of spring training.
Having been briefly sidelined by a calf injury, Harper recently admitted that he probably wasn't going to make the team. But Wednesday, the team said he still has a chance. Adam Kilgore:
"We have a lot of games left," Rizzo said. "There’s 19 or 20 games left in spring. It’s kind of set him back a little bit as far as getting his at-bats. I don’t think it will be part of the decision-making process. We feel he has enough time to get back into the swing of things."
Asked point-blank if Harper still had a shot to crack the Nationals’ roster, Rizzo said: "We haven’t any made any decision to the contrary. He’s still in the picture. We’re still early in the decision-making process."
Here's what that actually says: the Nationals have not specifically decided that Bryce Harper won't make the team out of camp. It's March 14. Why would they have decided that already? There's time to let things play out. Maybe Harper bats .500 and slugs .900. Maybe somebody else gets hurt. Maybe Harper buys everybody in the front office a new car.
It never really means that much to say someone hasn't ruled something out. Watch this: the Boston Red Sox haven't ruled out trading Jon Lester to the Blue Jays. I'm almost certainly right. The Nationals haven't ruled out Bryce Harper making the team. There exists some chance that isn't zero percent.
But it's close to zero percent. Remember that Harper's young. Remember that there are service time concerns. Remember that, the last time Harper faced meaningful competition, he batted .256 in double-A. In a season in which they're expected to be decent but by no means phenomenal, the Nationals don't need to rush this. Harper would have to be unbelievable from here on out, and even then, he could probably use a little more time in the minors.
So Bryce Harper probably isn't going to make the Nationals. He could, though. It isn't absolutely impossible.