Bryce Harper is being courted by non-MLB teams amid ongoing labor negotiations
It appears the Philadelphia Phillies once again have competition for Bryce Harper.
Can someone say 2018-2019 offseason déjà vu?
Until the league ends the lockout, players cannot report to their club facilities for Spring Training or have any contact with their teams. What they can do is go play elsewhere: Japan’s Nippon League, the KBO in Korea, Liga Mexicana, there are options. When the NHL had its own work stoppage in 2004-05, several hockey players took their talents to the global stage rather than twiddling their thumbs.
On Monday, as players frustratedly awaited updates from the ongoing, fraught negotiations, Bryce Harper made a rare statement of sorts.
He hit up the Nippon League’s Yomiuri Giants on Instagram and put his agent, Scott Boras, on notice.
The Giants are into it.
Harper’s apparent desire not to waste his career caught the eye of another team, the Toros Del Este of the Dominican Winter League.
Founded exactly 100 years after the Phillies, the Toros were established in 1983. And in only 39 years, they have three championships to the Phillies’ two. That has to be tempting for Harper, who’s made it clear he’s “hungry” for something bigger than personal glory.
Several former Phillies have played for the Toros, including Antonio Alfonseca, Chase d’Arnaud, Brian Bogusevic, Neftalí Feliz, Pedro Feliz, and Brett Oberholtzer. During Phillies manager Joe Girardi’s playing days with the Colorado Rockies, his backup catcher was Jorge Brito, a former Toro.
Other notable former Toros include Miguel Andújar, Matt Beaty, Charlie Blackmon, Jeimer Candelario, Yan Gomes, and Hunter Pence.
It’s unlikely the Phillies star and reigning NL MVP actually follows through with the Giants or Toros, but at least someone actually wants to see Harper play this year.