Accepting that the turnaround they kept waiting for isn't going to happen, the back-to-back NL East champs began their fire sale Tuesday by trading away Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams.
The 25-year-old Harper is set to become a free agent for the first time this offseason, and avoided arbitration this past winter by signing a one-year, $21.6-million deal plus incentives. In the Nationals acquired infield prospect Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named later, or cash considerations.
Murphy has been limited to just 56 games, but he's slashing a respectable.300/.341/.442 with 15 extra-base hits (six home runs) and 29 RBI.
The Cardinals drafted Adams in the 23rd round of the June 2009 First-Year Player Draft. He made two relief appearances during an injury rehabilitation assignment in Springfield (AA). He had played in 747 career minor league game before his Major League debut.
Adams, who earned the nickname "Big City" while in St. Louis, is expected to join the club within the next few days.
Fowler, 32, was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left foot fracture after fouling a ball off his foot on August 3 in a game at Pittsburgh.