Is Bryce Harper trying to send a message to the fans, or the Philadelphia Phillies front office?
During Monday night’s series opener against the Washington Nationals, several fans noticed that Harper’s bat bore someone else’s name and MLB team.
It’s not every day you see a Phillies hitter stepping up to the plate with a bat that says Chicago Cubs on it and the name of one of the Phillies’ possible trade targets.
Harper and Bryant go way back. They’ve been playing ball with and against each other since they were elementary school-age, growing up in Las Vegas. When the Cubs manipulated the young Bryant’s service time, Harper, already in the big leagues, tweeted “#FreeBryant” to support his old friend.
In 2015, when the two were finally going to play against each other in the majors, this is how Harper described Bryant:
"“Great talent, a lot of power. When we were younger, we used to call him ‘silk’ because he was so smooth with everything he did. He played third, he played short, played outfield.”"
And this is how Bryant described Harper:
"“He was always bigger than the competition. He was always just better, and he was younger. It was crazy to see that, how advanced he was at such a young age. Even now, in the big leagues, he’s still very young.”"
Before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, Harper wanted to play with Bryant on the Chicago Cubs.
During the 2018-2019 offseason, when Harper was the biggest name on the free-agent market, he told his old friend that the Chicago Cubs were at “the top of [his] list.” The Harpers and Bryants even rang in the New Year together. Of course, Harper ended up signing his blockbuster deal with the Phillies, instead.
Fast-forward to the 2019-2020 offseason, and the Boston Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Spurred by one of the biggest trades of the millennium, the Phillies were rumored to be interested nabbing the Cubs third baseman when he was reportedly on the trade block. Again, it was not to be.
Bryant will be a massive upgrade for whichever team he goes to, but between him and Harper, the accolades are astounding. Harper won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2012 when he was only 19 years old; he was the NL MVP and won a Silver Slugger in 2015, he’s been an All-Star six times, and he won the Home Run Derby. Bryant was the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP and helped the Cubs win their first World Series in over a century, and he’s a four-time All-Star.
Imagine these two on the same team.
Why was Harper using Bryant’s bat during the Phillies game?
But back to the baseball bat, because I have so many questions. Did Bryant give the bat to Harper because Philadelphia is where he wants the Cubs to trade him? Did Harper ask to use it so that he could send a message? If Bryant does get traded to the Phillies and he and Harper win a World Series, would the bat go into the Hall of Fame? How can we get the Phanatic involved in this situation?
Harper made it publicly known earlier this season that he wants his front office to be buyers at the deadline, which means he’s definitely spoken to team executives privately about his desire to contend while he’s under contract. He’s clearly decided that subtlety isn’t the move if he wants his team to make moves. A bold strategy, but you have to admire the creativity, especially if it brings Bryant to Philly.
Harper and Bryant didn’t get to play together in Cubs uniforms, but maybe they’ll both be wearing red pinstripes by the end of the week.