Bryce Harper not being enamored with Philly is perhaps a bigger deal than initially thought

Bryce Harper is a free-agent. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

The Philadelphia Phillies welcomed free-agent Manny Machado to Citizens Bank Park Thursday, finishing up a week where the four-time All-Star has also visited the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. If general manager Matt Klentak and Phillies brass are hell-bent on adding a superstar this offseason, they perhaps felt increased pressure for this visit to go well.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN in New York Thursday and was asked why it is that the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox all seem to be more intrigued with Machado than Bryce Harper. While Heyman did admit that he’s not entirely sure that’s the case, he did pass along one reason why noteworthy reason why the Phillies may be more interested in Machado:

“The Phillies, I think, sense that Harper doesn’t really want to go there.”

In a column earlier this offseason, Heyman suggested that Harper had told some of his friends that Philadelphia wasn’t his No. 1 choice in terms of a potential city to live in. I followed up with the qualifier that most people with no connection to Philadelphia wouldn’t consider it their No. 1 destination in terms of a place to play either; certainly not over New York City, Los Angeles of Chicago. In Harper’s case, he’s understandably grown fond of Washington D.C., the place he’s spent the first seven years of his career. It is what it is, and perhaps a situation where money could change his mind.

It also didn’t seem to a be a dis on Philadelphia fans – although Harper did once take a swipe at Phillies fans during his rookie season – because during the 2017 season Harper told Ryan Lawrence, writing for Philly Voice, that he enjoyed playing at Citizens Bank Park in front of Phillies fans. He seemingly doesn’t mind visiting the city of Philadelphia either, because he posted an Instagram story of the Philadelphia skyline during the regular season, which was taken by many to signal that Harper enjoyed being in the city.

And perhaps he does, although you do increasingly get the sense that while Harper may enjoy visiting Philadelphia, it isn’t particularly high on the list of cities he wants to move to. Money still talks loudly, especially when Scott Boras is your agent, but while the Phillies are very financially flexible, they may not be keen on having to considerably outspend other suitors to land Harper. It certainly seems that Machado will be the first of the two to sign, and if the Phillies get the sense that Harper isn’t likely to sign with them, it would seem natural for them to put on a full-court press for Machado. Heck, they may have even preferred Machado to begin with, it depends who you ask.

It’s true, next year’s free agent class could be really good. Nolan Arenado, Xander Bogaerts, Anthony Rendon, J.D. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt are among the star position players that can reach free-agency after the 2019 season. The year after that, a certain local star could become a free-agent, if he isn’t extended or traded in the meantime. But Phillies fans have been pitched on the offseason of Harper and Machado for at least three years now. If the Phillies don’t walk away with one of the two – especially if Harper is truly lukewarm on Philadelphia – it will be a bitter pill to swallow.


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  1. Ken Bland

    December 21, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    This Dodger-Red trade, to the naked eye puts Harper that much more in the Dodger focus.

    And while this may be overthinking, but what this might do is reopen the Stanton to the Dodger possibility of a year ago, coupled with Harper to NY deal.

    Salary tax implications aren’t considered in that thought, but at least from 1 standpoint, Harper’s a better fit in NY, Stanton better in LA in the lefty righty ratios within each club’s lineups.

    If this deal today does anything to increase the Phis chance at landing Harper, it’s news to me.

    Push to shove, still looks like Harper TO LA to me.

    • Doug Rynard

      December 22, 2018 at 8:46 am

      I would sign Harper at a reasonable contract a little above 30 mil. and trade him for Mike Trout. The Angels might do it because it will cost more to keep Trout. A win-win for the Phillies.

      • Matthew Veasey

        December 22, 2018 at 10:07 am

        Doubt you get Harper at a “reasonable” deal. We shall see.

      • Brian

        December 26, 2018 at 2:54 am

        No thanks. Why would we want Harper when we already have Trout? Arte Moreno can easily afford Trout. He only spends around $165 million on team salary. He can go up to $206 million. He will have to do that and keep Trout or he’ll lose the fans. Angel fans don’t want Bryce Harper, we want our player.

  2. Doug Rynard

    December 22, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I say try to sign Harper at a reasonable contract and trade him to the Angels for Trout. The Angels will have to pay more if they want to keep Trout. He doesn’t really want to play and I would think Trout would love to play here. A win -win for the Phillies.

    • Ken Bland

      December 22, 2018 at 10:41 am

      With the negotiation game tipping into the new year, or certainly seeming like it, Trout’s name has popped up in conversation with some frequency.

      Popping up’s one thing. Misreading his thinking is another, and reflects poor vision.

      Trout’s appreciation for South Jersey, and fandom for all Philly teams (not just the Eagles) is well known, and no quibble is offered.

      However, and I don’t know the guy, although this will sound like I think like it, MT places playing here, with his prime years approaching is so secondary to playing in the post season it’s not even measurable.

      As it stands now, he’d have to have a great deal more confidence that the Phils are headed toward consistent winning than is obvious at this point. Generally, fans seem to care more about winning than the players. Trout’s fandom is so intense that he’s a probable exception to that. To go from the treading water Angels to the questionable Phillies, what does that accomplish?

      By the way, trading Harper is imaginative. I’d assume Boras will explore a lot of player escape possibilities over the seemingly 7-10 year deal. I seriously doubt he doesn’t seek no trade protection for his client.

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