MLB and the MLBPA are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for an eighth-consecutive day in Jupiter, Fla. Reports on the ground suggest that the owner-imposed lockout is far from over. For MLB players, that means it could be weeks (perhaps months) before they are called in to report to spring training. Bryce Harper, who is already in Clearwater, suggested on Instagram that he could be interested in spending some time playing in Japan.
The Yomiuri Giants, the team Harper is interested in playing for, are an NPB team based in Tokyo. Notable American alumni include Harper’s former hitting coach Joe Dillon and former manager Gabe Kapler. Hideki Matsui, the franchise’s most famous player, also played for the Giants from 1993 to 2002. Per 2008 Phillies guru John Foley, the Yomiuri Giants were the team Kyle Kendrick was traded to as part of an infamous Phillies prank in 2008.
Unfortunately, the MLB lockout is far from a prank. MLB, which does not have the authority to unilaterally cancel regular-season games, imposed a Feb. 28 deadline to hammer out a new CBA in order to start the season on March 31, which is scheduled to be Opening Day. The MLBPA disputes the validity of that deadline.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, members of the players association were told that they are permitted to play overseas during the lockout and that the union would dispute any league attempt to interfere in the process.
If Phillies fans can’t watch Harper play in Philadelphia, the next best thing could be to see him play for the most storied NPB franchise.
Other players have hinted at finding temporary work during the lockout.
The New York Yankees’ Joey Gallo posted his new LinkedIn profile and sprinkled in some self-deprecating humor.
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