On Friday night, excitement was brewing among Philadelphia Phillies fans as the team’s owner, John Middleton, flew on his private jet to Bryce Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas for a second face-to-face meeting. As of this writing, Harper is still unsigned as he and agent Scott Boras continue waiting for the best possible deal. However, as NBC Philadelphia pointed out on Saturday, “Harper Mania” has hit a fever pitch, and recent Phillies signing Andrew McCutchen appears excited by the prospect of the six-time All-Star potentially joining the team.
As noted by NBC Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury, even the Phillies’ players were taken over by what he referred to as “Bryce Harper Mania” in the aftermath of Middleton’s Las Vegas trip. This included McCutchen, who related to the outlet that he and his teammates saw a helicopter circling over the Phillies’ Clearwater, Florida, training facility earlier in the week. The sighting, he added, led them to joke about how it would have been “funny” if the helicopter landed and Harper stepped out.
Although it’s far from certain whether Harper will sign a contract with the Phillies, McCutchen told NBC Philadelphia that his arrival, if it happens, will “change the team” and make an already “great” unit even better.
“It changes a lot for whatever team that he’s on. We feel like we have a really good team here. The Phillies have done a good job of getting some guys over here, getting [Jean] Segura, getting [J.T.] Realmuto, getting [David] Robertson,” said McCutchen, who signed with the Phillies in December after splitting the 2018 MLB season between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees.
Per Baseball-Reference, the Phillies finished third in the National League East last year after posting an 80-82 record, marking the seventh straight year in which the team missed out on MLB postseason play. However, McCutchen believes this could change soon, as he told NBC Philadelphia that the Phillies’ current lineup has enough talent to make it to the playoffs in the 2019 season. Despite that, the veteran outfielder stressed that talented teams won’t go anywhere unless they have a tight bond in the locker room and on the field.
“You can have a great, talented team but if you don’t have [chemistry], you’re not going to win. I don’t know if there’s ever been one team that won a championship that didn’t have that. It’s always the final piece of the puzzle.”
While there has been some talk suggesting that Bryce Harper hasn’t signed with the Phillies because he simply doesn’t want to play for the team, an earlier report from NBC Sports Philadelphia sought to debunk those rumors. On Thursday, the outlet cited an unnamed source close to the 26-year-old right fielder, who said that Harper “has no aversion” to playing in Philadelphia, given his familiarity with the city and his strong performances in the Phillies’ home field of Citizens Bank Park.