With the Bryce Harper free agent saga dragging toward the end of another week, the Philadelphia Phillies remain the top contenders for the 26-year-old, five-time All-Star’s services, with rumors claiming that the team now has a “total focus” on making whatever offer will bring Harper to Citizens Bank Park for the 2019 season, as Inquisitr reported.
But in a Wednesday interview with the New York Times, Philadelphia’s 39-year-old general manager, Matt Klentak, said that the Phillies are already satisfied with their offseason haul, regardless of whether they are able to sign Harper or not. As Times baseball analyst Tyler Kepner wrote, “the Phillies are not dangling a blank check” in their efforts to sign Harper, and Klentak appeared to say that the organization is focused on other priorities.
“The most important things for any organization is to have continuity and a consensus from ownership through management,” Klentak told Kepner. “We know what we’re willing to do, and we know what we’re not willing to do.”
The Phillies have not finished above the .500 mark since the 2011 season, per Baseball Reference, when they won the National League East, winning 102 games — the best record in baseball that year and still the most in the franchise’s 136-year history — only to lose in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Division Series.
The Phillies finished at 80-82 in 2018, their best record since sinking to 81-81 in 2012, but so far this offseason have made only one “big name” free agent signing, inking 32-year-old veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million pact, as ESPN reported.
But McCutchen also says that the Phillies do not need Harper to go all the way in 2019, telling the Times, “I think we have the pieces to go as far as we want to, and that’s to the championship. It’s a very strong team all around.”
The Phillies also added an elite catcher, J.T. Realmuto, in a trade with the Miami Marlins, as well as hard-throwing reliever David Robertson and shortstop Jean Segura.
Earlier in the offseason, team owner John Middleton announced that he would be willing to “be a little stupid,” in spending free-agent cash this offseason. But now, according to the Washington Post, Klentak has told reporters “sometimes you have to be willing to walk away,” as the Phillies did in their chase of the offseason’s other sought-after free agent, infielder Manny Machado, who ended up signing a $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
“I’m well aware of the perception this offseason,” Klentak told the Times. “I would shift the focus to the body of work in our offseason. We’ve spent about $180 million. We’ve spent plenty of money.”