Phillies rumors: Team “would have interest” in pursuing Bryce Harper
By John Town
A report from John Perrotto of FanRag sports adds more fuel to the fire that the Phillies want to sign Bryce Harper if he reaches free agency.
The Phillies and the 2019 free agency go hand-in-hand at this point. It is the light at the end of the tunnel for a team that currently has the worst record in Major League Baseball. The hope is that the team can use its large monetary reserves to lure an elite player to Philadelphia.
One player everyone wants in Philly is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper. The 2012 Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP is off to a torrid start this season. He leads the NL in home runs (14) and has a 1.140 OPS (195 OPS+). His offensive WAR of 2.3 is third-best in baseball behind only Mike Trout and Miguel Sano.
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If Harper continues this pace through next season, he will no doubt be the top hitter on the market. He will command a salary that only a few teams can pay. He recently agreed to a $21.625 million deal for the 2018 season, the highest an arbitration-eligible player has ever made. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility for him to make close to $40 million per year on the open market.
If Harper does hit free agency after the 2018 season, many Phillies fans will want the team to go after him. According to John Perrotto of FanRag Sports, so does the team.
A source in the organization told Perrotto that the Phils definitely would be interested in pursuing Harper if and when he becomes a free agent. The source told Perrotto that they view Harper as the centerpiece the team needs for the future:
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"The Phillies believe Harper could be the centerpiece of a potentially explosive offense that would include catcher Jorge Alfaro, first baseman Tommy Joseph, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop J.P. Crawford, left fielder Aaron Altherr and center fielder Odubel Herrera.“We have a lot of good young players but we don’t have that one guy who has taken off and become one of the better players in the league,” the Phillies source said. “Adding a true impact hitter would make all the difference in the world.”"
Harper has gone on record talking about how much he likes hitting at Citizens Bank Park, and an NL scout raved to Perrotto about the possibility of Harper playing 81 games a year there. In 38 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Harper has a .988 OPS with 12 home runs and 26 RBI.
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The fact of the matter is that Harper is one of the top talents in baseball and the Phils won’t be the only ones looking to sign him. There will almost certainly be a bidding war the likes of which baseball has never seen before. However, if Harper winds up in Philadelphia, it will drastically change this team.