Phillies: Kris Bryant says Bryce Harper wanted to join Cubs

Right fielder Bryce Harper (left) talks with Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
Right fielder Bryce Harper (left) talks with Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports) /

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, while with the Nationals, once told Kris Bryant that the Cubs were No. 1 on his list for free agency.

Philadelphia Phillies fans remember two offseason ago, when it seemed like star outfielder Bryce Harper — and the also-targeted Manny Machado — would never sign. Ultimately, Harper inked a then-record 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies, while Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for 10 years and $300 million.

According to Harper’s friend and fellow Las Vegas native Kris Bryant, however, the longtime Washington Nationals outfielder turned-free-agent Harper once had the Chicago Cubs at the No. 1 spot of his desired destinations list.

“When he came to Chicago and played us, we went to dinner one night at Steak 48,” Bryant recalled in a recent Red Line Radio podcast. “We’re just talking and I was like man, ‘It’d be super cool if you came to Chicago.'”

The 2016 National League MVP and World Series champion said Harper replied to him: “Honestly, [the Cubs are] at the top of my list.”

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“I thought we really had a chance to get him. I kind of forget the situation exactly, who we signed or whatever, but he really loves Chicago,” Bryant continued. “He loves coming to the city, eating there. I mean, who doesn’t like going to Chicago?”

The Cubs and Bryant recently avoided arbitration this offseason by agreeing to a one-year, $19.5 million contract. Prior, however, and for the past couple of years, his name has been involved in trade rumors. While Bryant and Harper never teamed up in Chicago, there has been a thought they could do so in Philadelphia. Last February, the Phillies reportedly showed “exploratory interest” in the third baseman. Alec Bohm‘s strong showing this past season lowered the chances to near zero that the two friends would become teammates.

Bryant added on the podcast that he is “bummed” the Cubs missed out on the chance to sign Harper, but that he is “doing alright in Philly.” Spanning two seasons and 215 games so far in red pinstripes, Harper has slashed .262/.385/.518 with 45 doubles, three triples, 48 home runs, and 147 RBI.

It is not exactly known how Harper ultimately signed with the Phillies instead of the Cubs, but it is assumed the then-Theo Epstein-led organization was not willing to come close to the $330 million offer.

“Philly has really good cheesesteaks, too, so he’s probably crushing those,” said Bryant.

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