Bryce Harper’s status with the 2012 Washington Nationals has become one of the hottest topics of Spring Training thus far. He’s one of the most talented prospects ever in Major League history, and it’s no question that the Nationals would love to have him on the 25-man roster.

Apparently, manager Davey Johnson seems willing to give Harper every chance this spring to make the club. Even though veterans Mike Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth will all have the upper hand, Harper will still be given ample opportunity.

If Harper has a strong spring, Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo will have no choice but to consider him for the Opening Day roster. 

Harper is somebody who needs to be playing everyday, no matter the level. If he plays well enough this spring to make the team, but not well enough to start, the Nationals would be wise to have him play in AAA so he can continue to get regular at-bats.

Even if he did play well enough to earn a starting spot in right field, he would be a huge work in progress. It’s obvious that he has serious talent, but he still needs work defensively in the outfield, along with his base-running and with his discipline at the plate.

Such things can only be corrected with a sufficient amount of playing time. Playing sporadically as a fourth outfielder in the majors won’t do much to help his progression into the superstar player he seems destined to be.

The 19-year old is confident in his abilities, and given his manager’s confidence in him, it’s definitely a possibility that Harper will be suiting up as the Opening Day right fielder in 2012.

Harper’s emergence with the team would have a direct effect on Werth, who will be asked to shift from his natural position of right field over to center. That move would make Bernadina the team’s fourth outfielder, or emergency plan just in case Harper falters.

Werth, who failed to produce at a level reflective of the monster contract he signed prior to last season, would have a tough task ahead of him. He would be asked to transition into playing center field everyday, as well as being asked to cover for the inevitable mistakes that Harper would make in the transition to an everyday outfielder.

Werth’s offense, though, will probably benefit from Harper’s presence in the lineup.

In 561 at-bats last season, Werth hit a putrid .232/.330/.389 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. With the added protection of Harper, Werth would theoretically see an all-around increase in his production.

Having Harper on the roster would surely improve the Nationals offensive production. That being said, the defense would take a pretty big hit, at least at first. Harper seems determined this spring to improve his game, so he may turn out to be a more-than-serviceable outfielder.

The Nationals figure to be a much improved club this season, with or without the presence of Harper on the 25-man roster. The additions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson will be huge for the rotation, and the under-the-radar signing of Brad Lidge should help to solidify the back end of the bullpen.

The team won 80 games in 2011. With the additions of Gonzalez, Jackson and Lidge, the team could see its win total increase into the 88-range. With Harper on the team, though, that win total could increase even further into the 91-range.

With 91 wins, the team would most likely be fighting with the revamped Marlins for a Wild Card spot. Should they win the Wild Card, the Nationals could end up cast as a playoff sleeper in October.

There’s no doubt that Harper will be a productive major leaguer when his time comes, but he could really be a valuable asset to the Nationals this season. Although he may make the defense a bit weaker, the offense and the bench will be improved as a result of him being on the team.

Read more MLB news on