Bryce Harper didn’t squash the idea of the Philadelphia Phillies potentially trading for former National League MVP Kris Bryant when he was asked in February, but gave a nuanced take on the situation. The gist of his thoughts? If the Phillies needed to give up Alec Bohm and/or Spencer Howard to make such a trade, he was out.
While Harper has great respect for Bryant, a fellow Las Vegas native, it appears that he thought it wasn’t smart to part with what it would take to get the former MVP because he thought such a package could include a future MVP.
Now at the major league level, Bohm remains very much a work in progress in the field. However, the 2018 first-round pick has already developed a very advanced approach at the plate. As part of a three-hit evening Thursday, Bohm delivered a crucial two-out single in the eighth inning with two strikes and ultimately won the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly two innings later.
After the game, Harper, a former National League MVP himself, had high praise for Bohm, saying he’s capable of winning the award and comparing him to a former Phillies star.
“You guys are probably going to think I’m crazy, with his long hair and [think] the only reason I’m saying this is because he has long hair and wears the No. 28, but he’s got a great swing and it reminds me a lot of J-Dub [Jayson Werth],” Harper said after Thursday’s extra-innings win. “It’s kind of like that little swing in a big man’s body. He really keeps everything going. The way he does it…the way he goes about it…his two-strike approach…hitting the ball to right field…and then hitting home runs to right and left as well…and the bigger he gets, and the better he gets – he’s gonna be a possible MVP player for us. I know that’s high praise, but I believe in him as a player, as a person and he’s been very good for us since he’s come up.”
In his first 18 games at the major league level, Bohm is slashing .317/.375/.492 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and seven walks. Certainly, pitchers will adjust to the 24-year-old as more information becomes available on his offensive approach, but you get the feeling that he’ll be more than capable of readjusting when that time comes.
The biggest question about Bohm remains whether he’ll be able to stick at third base, his natural position. Though he has made a few highlight-worthy picks at the hot corner, he also already has -3 defensive runs saved, a pretty staggering amount for how short his career has been thus far.
Perhaps he’ll develop into an adequate third baseman, or maybe at 6’5, the Phillies will decide he’s better served playing another position in the long run. Maybe that will be as simple as letting him DH in most games in the future, assuming the DH is instituted permanently in the National League. Bohm has some experience at first base in the minor leagues, though with Rhys Hoskins’ recent resurgence, the Phillies probably won’t be inclined to move him off that position in 2021. With a strong arm, Bohm may ultimately be best-geared to play left field, especially at Citizens Bank Park, where there isn’t a ton of room to patrol. Andrew McCutchen is under contract for $20 million in 2021, though it isn’t difficult to imagine him getting more at-bats as a DH in his age-34 season, paving the way for the Phillies to try Bohm in left field next season, should they be so inclined.
In any event, it’s pretty evident that Bohm’s bat is going to play. If he has an offensive career like Werth, great, the last notable No. 28 for the Phillies is the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason home runs. From here, though, Bohm’s ceiling, at least at the plate, is even higher than Werth’s was, a pretty remarkable thing to say.
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