Let’s face it: Bryce Harper runs the Phillies. They are hostage to his whims. He’s become the Tom Brady of baseball, a large hand pushing the franchise forward, just without all of Brady’s rings.

Considering the recent track record of the Phillies’ front office, keeping Harper happy by adding players he likes might not be a bad thing. But it is, at any rate, a hell of a thing.

On Monday, in his first public comments of the 2022 season, Harper said “It’d definitely be a downer” if the team didn’t sign one of the three available free-agent sluggers still on the market.

On Tuesday, after practice, Harper discussed the trio with Phillies owner John Middleton. “I was just letting them know how I feel,” Harper said, as if the Phillies don’t have the internet. Middleton got the message.

By breakfast time Wednesday morning, the Phillies had agreed to a four-year, $79 million contract with lefty slugger Kyle Schwarber.

» READ MORE: ‘He’s going to fit right in’: Inside the Phillies’ pursuit of Kyle Schwarber

He’ll hit at the top of the lineup with Harper and Harper’s other client, catcher J.T. Realmuto.

During the 2020 season Harper shamelessly campaigned for the Phillies to retain Realmuto. He wore a Realmuto T-shirt to camp in 2020, and he posted a picture of him wearing a Realmuto jersey on his plane ride home after that season, vowing to “rep” his Realmuto fixation all winter. Before the 2020 season, Harper said:

“If the Phillies don’t end up signing him back, it would be terrible. It would be sad. ... Hopefully, we can make that happen.”

We? We? Oui.

In January of 2021, bidding largely against themselves, the Phillies made Realmuto the highest-paid catcher, in terms of average annual value of salary, in major-league history.

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Harper’s a busy guy. He’s officially listed as the Phillies’ right fielder, but apparently, he’s also an assistant general manager ... and, to a degree, a player agent for his pals.

And kind of a racketeer.

He told the team to sign Realmuto. Done. He told the team to add Schwarber, or Kris Bryant, or Nick Castellanos. Done.

Why does Harper’s word command so much power? Because, said one league source, Middleton is terrified of irritating Harper.

With all due respect to Joel Embiid and Jason Kelce, Harper, at this moment, is the city’s most popular and accomplished athlete. He’s a two-time National League MVP, and he’s the reigning MVP. He’s a tireless, enthusiastic promoter of a Phillies brand increasingly tarnished since Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay simultaneously disintegrated a decade ago.

The Phillies fear that Harper will, one day, force his way out of town.

The Phillies don’t just hear, “Sign this guy,” or “Sign that guy.”

They hear, “Sign this guy ... or else.”

Placating the Phanatic

Yes, after this season he’ll have nine years and $222 million remaining on the 13-year, $330 million contract he signed in 2019. You might have noticed that, just across Pattison Avenue, both Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons strong-armed their way of town, too, despite being owed tons of money and owing tons of time to the Eagles and Sixers, respectively.

Harper didn’t campaign for Realmuto or Schwarber hat-in-hand. The opposite is true.

» READ MORE: Matt Vierling comes into Phillies camp eyeing an everyday job

He sauntered into the local hardware store, looked around, tilted back his fedora, and in his best Tony Soprano voice, told the trembling owner:

“Nice ballclub you got here. Be a shame if something was to happen to it.”

Maybe that’s not the exact tone or the exact text of what he said, but don’t be naive. That’s what he meant. Otherwise, why bother saying it?

And yes, the Phillies had made their intentions clear after the 2021 season to sign a bat to complement Harper, Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins. And yes, they were in deep discussions with Schwarber before the lockout descended Dec. 2. According to an MLB source, Schwarber wanted to test the free-agent market further before decided where to take his 32 homers from last season.

And no, unlike Brady, Harper didn’t get his Gronk, or even his Antonio Brown. Both were Brady-fueled acquisitions after TB12 landed in Tampa in 2020. Harper’s Gronk would have been Kris Bryant. Boyhood buddies in Las Vegas, Harper most stringently stumped for Bryant in his campaign Monday and Tuesday. Bryant reportedly landed a seven-year, $182 million deal with Colorado on Wednesday. Harper didn’t seem as excited about adding Castellanos. Not coincidentally, Castellanos was never seriously linked to the Phillies.

Again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Harper is throwing his weight around.

Frankly, the front-office slump that began with Ruben Amaro Jr. then bled into Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail, Harper’s voice won’t be the worst one lately heard in the front offices at Citizens Bank Park.