Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo.

At 53-53, the Washington Nationals needed to make a decision about who they were headed into the 2018 season trade deadline. Were they still contenders fighting for a wild-card berth, or were they ready to admit defeat and start looking to the future? The fact that Bryce Harper’s name had been floated out there as potential trade bait told you everything you needed to know about just how far things might go if the team decided to pull the trigger. In the end, they denied Harper was, in fact, available and instead shuffled a few minor pieces around but otherwise stood pat.

One of those pieces was reliever Brandon Kintzler, who was traded to the Cubs for a Single-A prospect on Tuesday. The move saves the Nats at least $6 million over the next two seasons, but that might not have been their actual motivation to move him. In fact, according to the Washington Post, Kintzler was moved because “the Nationals believed he was responsible for anonymous reports that painted Washington’s clubhouse culture as iffy.”

It was unclear why they thought that or which articles that might have been alluding to, though a recent one by Yahoo! Sports that includes anonymous player quotes painting the clubhouse as “a mess” certainly stand out. What more, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo (seen above) didn’t exactly hide the fact that Kintzler’s opinions were a major factor in his trade.

This isn’t an isolated incident, either. The Nationals are coming off an embarrassing beatdown of division rival New York. However, late in the game, pitcher Shawn Kelley got mad and threw a temper tantrum on the mound after giving up a home run.

This was seen as Kelley showing up his manager by putting him out there in the first place with nothing to gain. The Nationals responded by designating Kelley for assignment on Wednesday.

When asked about it, manager Dave Martinez doesn’t think there is dysfunction in the Nationals’ locker room, but said the fact that the team isn’t living up to the hype they entered the season with is clearly taking its toll.

Had they traded away Harper, it’s entirely possible the Nats would have had a mutiny on their hands. Perhaps not giving up on the 2018 season was their way to ensuring that the rest of the roster cools it with the “iffy” behavior. ” However, these aren’t exactly typical reasons listed for roster moves, and if the team continues to fade into the background and out of the playoff picture for good, it doesn’t exactly sound like there’s a good foundation there to handle what happens next.

[Deadspin, WaPo]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, 55places.com, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.