Indications throughout the week were that Bryce Harper, the leading MLB free agent, would be announcing his new team this week, or even on Friday.
That, as of Friday night, had not happened. But Harper did leave a comment on the Instagram page of a star player for one of the teams to which he’s been linked.
Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies’ slugging first baseman, posted a photo to his Instagram account of himself arriving at the team’s spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida, with the caption “missed this walk to work,” along with a palm-tree emoji.
Below the post, per Crossing Broad, Instagram user BHarper3407, which is Bryce Harper’s handle, left a comment, with a “sign of the horns” emoji and the phrase “suhhhhh kiiiiiiid.”
The brief comment was followed by dozens of Phillies fans urging Harper to sign with Philadelphia.
A report last December in Philly Voice stated that Hoskins had talked to Harper about coming to the Phillies, as the two men are both represented by agent Scott Boras.
“It’s just more of me offering any look into what this city is like, what the organization is like, what the clubhouse is like, what [manager Gabe Kapler] is like,” Hoskins said in that interview. “It’s me offering info to him, if he wants it, and I have expressed to him I’m here to chat if he wants it.”
Hoskins, who was a rookie sensation with the Phillies in 2017, moved to left field for the 2018 season after the Phillies signed first baseman Carlos Santana, but now that Santana has been traded, Hoskins is expected to return to first base this season. Harper, if he signs with the Phillies, would presumably play an outfield position.
Chris Russell, a Washington D.C., radio host known to have close ties to Harper’s camp, gave an interview Friday morning to Philadelphia radio station WIP, in which he stated that he believes Harper has already made a decision about his free agent destination, but that no contract has yet been signed. Harper has been in Las Vegas throughout the week, along with his wife and Boras.
The Instagram and other social media habits of NBA players have often been closely watched by league observers, such as the 2016 incident, per Cleveland Plain Dealer, when LeBron James unfollowed his then-team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Twitter during a stretch when he was frustrated with them. However, baseball players leaving clues as to their intentions through social media is a newer phenomenon.