Phillies will meet with Bryce Harper on Saturday in Las Vegas
A contingent that includes owner John Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak, president Andy MacPhail, manager Gabe Kapler and hitting coach John Mallee will meet with Harper in his hometown in their continuing pursuit of the superstar free agent.
The Phillies will visit Bryce Harper’s hometown on Saturday for a sales pitch as they fly to Las Vegas to continue their pursuit of the superstar free agent, according to a source.
The meeting, first reported by USA Today, is the team’s second high-profile presentation in three weeks after the Phillies hosted Manny Machado last month at Citizens Bank Park. The team’s contingent is expected to include owner John Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak, president Andy MacPhail, manager Gabe Kapler, and hitting coach John Mallee. It would be a similar group to the one that met with Machado.
The Phillies met with Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, last month in Las Vegas during the winter meetings. Harper, who lives in Vegas, did not attend the meeting. Harper has already met with the White Sox and Dodgers, who along with the Nationals are the Phillies’ stiffest competition to land the outfielder.
“When he’s going good, he’s one of the more difficult players to get out in the game. And I love the way he plays,” Kapler said last month at the winter meetings. “I think there’s so much to like about what Bryce Harper brings to the table -- his play on the field and then also what he brings to a clubhouse environment.”
The Phillies already have an opening for Harper in their outfield after they moved Rhys Hoskins back to first base. They also have more than enough money to spend and are believed to be the highest bidder for both Harper and Machado. Harper, like Machado, is just 26 years old and he expects to net more than $300 million over 10 years, which is the contract he reportedly turned down to return to the Nationals. Middleton said earlier this offseason that the Phillies may “even be a little stupid” about how they spend their money. Harper and Boras would love to see how stupid the Phillies are willing to get.
Harper hit 34 homers with a .889 OPS in 695 plate appearances last season with the Nationals. Since 2015, Harper has batted .283 with a .952 OPS. But the stat that will be the crux of Saturday’s presentation is Harper’s success in South Philly. Harper has a .932 OPS with 14 homers in 50 games at Citizens Bank Park. Nationals Park, Harper’s home ballpark, is the only place where he has hit more homers. And if needs any reminders of how comfortable he could be hitting in Philly, he’ll get a reminder on Saturday.