Harper minced no words Tuesday.
“If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you’re crazy,” Harper said Tuesday afternoon on 94 WIP in Philadelphia.
Harper and Trout have been friends since they played together in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. They won the National League and American League Rookie of the Year Awards, respectively, in 2012. Harper just signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, while Trout is eligible to become a free agent following the 2020 season. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported recently that the Angels have discussed a potential contract extension for Trout, but he said he would prefer not to discuss an extension during Spring Training or during the regular season.
Harper told MLB.com on Saturday that he leaned on Trout, a native of Millville, N.J., throughout his free agency process to determine whether Philadelphia would be the right city for him.
“I talked to him a lot,” Harper said. “From November, all the way through the process.
“Just seeing where he grew up in Philly, things like that. We’ve kept in contact over the last seven years. But just trying to get a hometown kid to tell me what he felt, how he felt about the organization and the area and things like that. He’s a kid who grew up seeing the Phillies have success, so going through those times with the fans and things like that. It was good to get his perspective and hear how he felt.”
Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, said one reason Harper did not want an opt-out in his contract is because he wanted to recruit players to join him in Philadelphia. Harper reiterated that point Tuesday.
“I think that’s one thing about this contract that I’m able to do,” Harper said on 94 WIP. “Having 13 years into place, I’m able to help recruit guys to this organization. … And for me, I can be able to talk to Trout or whoever it is, big-name free agent or whoever wants to come to Philly or is thinking about coming to Philly, I can say, ‘Hey, this is the place to be. This is where the fans are great, ownership understands it, our manager is awesome.’
“And if you don’t want to come to Philly, then don’t come, don’t be part of it. But if you want to come and be part of a winning team and a winning culture, then we’re going to need the best players to do that. And I don’t think [managing partner] John [Middleton] is scared to go out and get the best guys that we need to have.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Cardinals: “Bryce is a true team player. He’s not just thinking about what he can bring to this team. He’s thinking about all his teammates all the time. Additionally, he’s thinking about every possible way that we can improve. I don’t blame him for having that mentality.”