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Infield shift works on Harper

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Infield shift works on Harper

When Bryce Harper smoked a fifth-inning pitch from Trevor Cahill back up the middle and through the Diamondbacks right-hander's legs, he assumed (like everyone else at Nationals Park last night) he had just recorded the third base hit of his career.

And then shortstop John McDonald appeared out of nowhere to scoop up the ball behind second base and make a routine throw to first to get Harper by a step.

"I was pretty upset," Harper said. "I hit it through his legs and I was reading base hit, and he just played me up the gut and got me. ... Nothing I could do about it."

What happened? Credit the Diamondbacks' advance scouting department for knowing exactly where to position McDonald. The word is out: Harper is a pull-hitter. And until he proves otherwise, opposing managers are going to use the shift on him.

"I mean, they're no dummies," Davey Johnson said.

This isn't something Harper experienced the last season-plus in the minors.

"I haven't seen the shift since, I want to say, college," he said. "It worked their way tonight."

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Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

The Nationals missed out on a major trade target when news broke this afternoon that the White Sox had traded ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox. 

The report comes from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. 

Washington had been the frontrunner to land Sale as recently as this morning. And as recently as 30 minutes ago, the Nationals vs. Red Sox contest seemed like it could go either way.

But apparently the Nats couldn't match Boston's offer of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech plus two minor leaguers, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

Now, the dream rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sale won't happen. 

The trade for Sale was so close, it could impact other potential deals for the Nationals. The team reportedly explored trading Gio Gonzalez to the Yankees if Sale indeed ended up in Washington. 

MORE NATIONALS: Report: Nats exploring trading Gio to Yankees

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MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

Here's an interesting report for Nationals fans to keep an eye on: If Washington lands White Sox ace Chris Sale, they may trade left Gio Gonazlez to the Yankees. 

From Rich Mancuso of New York Sports Day:

A reliable National League source early this morning at the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings confirmed that the Washington Nationals are close to a deal with the New York Yankees that would send lefthander Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. In return the Yankees would send the Nationals two minor league prospects and maybe another player.

Mancuso stipulates that the trade agreement, which is not yet official, would be contingent upon the Nationals acquiring Sale. 

Gonzalez, 31, is in the last year of his contact with Washington after arriving in 2012 from Oakland. He finished the 2016 season with an 11-11 record, 4.57 ERA and 171 strikeouts. 

UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: The Nationals lost on out Sale, who was instead traded to the Red Sox. 

MORE NATIONALS: Syndergaard already tired of Sale to Nationals hype