Relationships between players and coaches in baseball are important. Charlie Manuel was able to be so successful in Philadelphia in part because of tremendous relationships with Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins and Roy Halladay, among others. It appears current manager Gabe Kapler left a positive impression on one of the game’s biggest stars.
As Fancred‘s Jon Heyman reported, free-agent Bryce Harper and Kapler “hit it off” during their meeting on Saturday in Las Vegas. Heyman noted that both are “intense.”
It’s certainly interesting that Kapler may now be seen as a positive component in the recruiting for Harper. Back in September, SportsRadio 94 WIP‘s Howard Eskin reported that top free agents may not have wanted to come to Philadelphia due to Kapler being the manager.
The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Scott Lauber later wrote about Kapler’s response to Eskin’s claim, and Kapler sounded optimistic that free agents would want to come and play under his management:
“I think free agents want to be treated with respect, I think they want to be shot straight, I think they want to know where they stand, and I think they want a voice,” he [Kapler] said. “That’s something that we do better than any other team, and I think that will come through loud and clear during the process.”
As Heyman noted, both are very similar in their attitudes, and Kapler had some positive things to say about Harper during the Winter Meetings last month (per FOX Sports: Braves). Kapler seemed to enjoy talking about Harper’s approach, even through his struggles last year.
Having Kapler and Harper match well together could be a crucial factor in Harper deciding whether or not to come to Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. During his time with the Nationals, Harper saw a slew of coaches come and go from 2012 to 2018, which included Davey Johnson (2011-2013), Matt Williams (2014-2015), Dusty Baker (2016-2017) and Dave Martinez (2018). The six-time All-Star might prefer for his next team to stick with one coach for the long haul, which could very well be the case with Kapler and the Phillies based on their performance next year.
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