Bryce Harper threatens defection to Japan as MLB labor talks take bad turn
Bryce Harper reaches out to Yomiuri Giants of Nippon League as MLB lockout threatens month-long delay of 2022 season
It looks like Bryce Harper is done waiting around for Major League Baseball to unlock., and who can blame him?
Barring a miracle on Monday, if MLB and the Players’ Union cannot come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB decided that the regular season will be delayed and any games missed will not be made up later.
But wait, it gets worse! On Monday, ahead of the deadline, news broke that the owners are willing to miss one month of games, and have taken a more “threatening” tone in negotiations. All in all, it’s been a very healthy three months between employer and employee.
For Harper, who is usually more upbeat on social media, the update seems to have put the Philadelphia Phillies star over the edge. But again, who can blame him?
The reigning NL MVP posted a photoshopped shot to his Instagram Stories, in which he’s wearing the uniform of a Yomiuri Giants player in Japan’s Nippon League.
Seeing the normally quiet Harper make a statement like this shows how much the situation has devolved.
While Harper is likely (hopefully) kidding, he might not be. He went as far as to tag the Giants as well as his agent, Scott Boras.
MLB players are allowed to play in other baseball leagues (NPB, KBO) during the lockout
Harper and any other MLB player are well within their rights to play elsewhere. As Ken Rosenthal noted when Harper’s announcement went viral on Twitter, the work stoppage guide includes a section about players playing in foreign leagues. As a reference, it mentions the 2004-05 NHL work stoppage, when several NHL players went overseas.
Imagine if a star of Harper’s caliber actually made good on the request and went to Japan to get some playing time in while MLB continues to run itself into the ground. His former teammate, Freddy Galvis, is already there; when he hit free agency last fall, he didn’t wait around for the lockout to decide his future, and signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, also of the NPB.
In a brutal twist, Harper posted this on the 3-year anniversary of his historic deal with the Phillies. He signed a 13-year, $330M deal with the Phillies in 2019, the richest contract in North American pro sports at the time.
We’ve spent the last few years complaining that the Phillies are wasting Harper’s prime by not building a competitive team around him, and now it’s not just them, but the entire league. How utterly ridiculous and absurd this situation has become. The owners are so stubborn, they would rather their best talent play elsewhere rather than unlock the league and meet them halfway. Every day missed is a day of great baseball we will never get back, and what hurts the most is that the people in charge are perfectly fine with that.
If Harper really does decide to “kill time” in Japan, it’ll be better than wasting it here.