Bryce Harper made sure he signed the largest contract in baseball history. Soon, he hopes he won’t even be the highest-paid player in the Phillies outfield.
As the newest superstar in Philadelphia, Harper is hoping his presence will only help the Phillies land south New Jersey native Mike Trout when the best player in the sport becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. Harper, who sought advice from Trout about moving to the Philadelphia area before signing his 13-year, $330 million deal, is already making his pitch to be part of an outfield with multiple MVP’s.
“If you don’t think I’m going to be calling Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you are crazy,” Harper said on SportsRadio 94WIP. “I think that is one thing about this contract that I am able to do. Having 13 years in a place, I am able to help recruit guys to the organization.”
Well, when they become free agents at least. The Commissioner’s Office likely will want to speak with Harper about comments that probably cross the tampering line.
“For me, I can be able to talk to Trout, or whoever it is, big-name free agent or whoever wants to come to Philly or is thinking about coming to Philly, I can say, ‘Hey, this is the place to be. This is where the fans are great, ownership understands it, our manager is awesome,’” Harper said.
“I can really put that faith in myself in being able to say we are able to go about it the right way, we are the Philadelphia Phillies and we want whoever wants to come to Philly. If you don’t want to come to Philly, then don’t come. Don’t be part of it. But if you want to come be part of a winning team and a winning culture, then we are going to need the best players to do that. I don’t think [owner] John [Middleton] is scared to go out and get the best guys we need to have.”
Harper claims he won’t bother the Angels superstar about the future during the season.
“I think it’s respecting Mike Trout in a certain way during the season, letting him play and do the things he needs to do to of course be Mike Trout,” Harper said.
During the offseason, the duo could talk plenty. While Harper debated where to sign as a free agent, he used Trout — who maintains a home in the area and is a die-hard Eagles fan — as a resource regarding signing the long-term deal.
“I talked to him a lot,” Harper told reporters following his introductory press conference. “From November, all the way through the process. … I played with him in the [Arizona] Fall League [in 2011], and we’ve kept in contact over the last seven years. But just trying to get a hometown kid to tell me what he felt, how he felt about the organization and the area and things like that. He’s a kid who grew up seeing the Phillies have success, so going through those times with the fans and things like that. It was good to get his perspective and hear how he felt.”
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, has said his client made the unusual choice not to include an opt-out in the record-setting contract so he could help recruit other players to Philly, knowing Harper would be around for the long haul.
“I’m making $26 [million] a year, something like that, so I think that’s going to be able to bring some other guys in as well to be able to help this organization win,” Harper said, having taken a lower average annual value on his deal than he could have on a shorter contract. “I know there’s another guy in about two years that comes off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.”
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