Yet another day of Bryce Harper rumors has, so far, yielded no official announcement regarding the superstar free agent’s new home for the 2019 MLB season and beyond. Although the Philadelphia Phillies have already bolstered their lineup earlier in the offseason by signing outfielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher David Robertson as free agents, many pundits are expecting that the Harper saga would end with the 26-year-old outfielder in a Phillies uniform. But with Harper still apparently hesitant to take his talents to the City of Brotherly Love, a new report shed some light on the possible reasons why the six-time All-Star has yet to sign with the Phillies.
In an article published Thursday afternoon on PhillyVoice, writer Evan Macy reflected on the “alternately optimistic and grim” rumors surrounding Harper and the Phillies. While Macy acknowledged that the hitter-friendly nature of Citizens Bank Park and the Phillies’ improved roster could give Harper good reason to move to Philadelphia, he theorized that the team’s management might not be willing to pay the $400 million Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, are rumored to be demanding.
With the above reason in mind, Macy quoted Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, who recently commented that at some point, “you have to be willing to walk away” from negotiations.
Aside from the aforementioned financial matters, there’s a possibility Bryce Harper might have “soured” on the Philadelphia Phillies because of former teammates such as Jayson Werth and Jonathan Papelbon, PhillyVoice‘s Macy added. He explained that Werth and Papelbon were both unhappy with their time in Philadelphia before they moved to the Washington Nationals, and might have influenced their younger teammate into harboring negative feelings about the city and/or its MLB team.
Additionally, Macy observed how Harper has typically “played a little harder” against Philadelphia because then-Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels deliberately beaned him early on in his rookie season in 2012. This was something Hamels admitted to, per ESPN, as he described the pitch as his way of “welcoming” the then-19-year-old Harper to the majors.
As for the other reasons why Harper is hesitant to ink a deal with the Phillies, Macy’s PhillyVoice report also theorized that the former No. 1 MLB draft pick might prefer to play for a West Coast team due to the fact that he’s a Las Vegas native who wants to play near his friends and family. Likewise, the excessively vocal and sometimes belligerent nature of Philadelphia’s sports fans was brought up as a possible deterrent preventing Harper from joining the team.
Despite the latter concern, Macy speculated that Harper “sounds like he can take the heat,” unlike his fellow superstar free agent Manny Machado, who opted instead to join the “low-pressure” Padres earlier this week.
“We’ll see if he take the easy road in San Francisco or if he comes to a town that will love him hard and love him tough like Philadelphia.”
Even if all of the above concerns are taken into consideration, one particularly recent report suggests that the rumors of Bryce Harper refusing to play for the Phillies could be greatly exaggerated. While the original report from NBC Philadelphia has since been removed, the Inquisitr cited the outlet on Thursday afternoon, noting that Harper doesn’t seem to have any issues with Philadelphia or the Phillies, and is instead prioritizing money over location when it comes to his preferred destination in free agency.