As the drama surrounding free agent Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies’ quest to sign him drags on into another week — after Harper allegedly met with at least two different teams at his Las Vegas home over the weekend, as Inquisitr reported — the veteran baseball journalist who hosts the ESPN Baseball Tonight daily podcast has raised the possibility that not only will Harper sign with the Phillies, but within two seasons Philadelphia may have a super-team with baseball’s best overall player joining Harper in the Philadelphia outfield.
The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, who at age 27 has already won two American League MVP awards, finished second in the MVP voting in four other seasons, and led the league in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) three times in his seven full seasons — per Baseball Reference — will be a free agent following the 2020 season. And the Millville, New Jersey, native has long been speculated to be headed for his “hometown” team, the Phillies.
Philadelphia is located less than an hour’s drive south of Millville, and Trout last week told USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale, “I didn’t go a day this winter without someone asking, ‘When you coming to Philly?’ I can’t predict the future.” Nightengale posted the quote on his Twitter account.
On Sunday, ESPN reporter Buster Olney said on his own Twitter feed that both Trout and Harper could be Phillies in the team’s 2021 opening day lineup. In fact, Olney envisioned a batting order with Trout batting second, Harper third, and current young Philadelphia star outfielder Rhys Hoskins hitting cleanup. Hoskins finished fourth in the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year voting despite playing only 50 games, and has belted 52 home runs in 728 official career at bats, per BR.
Olney did not, however, discuss the financial impact that making both the Harper and Trout signings would have on the Phillies’ budget. Without Harper yet signed, Philadelphia is already taking a $125.5 million payroll into the 2019 season, per Spotrac. With Harper reported to be seeking a contract of about $350 million total, per reporter Jon Heyman via Twitter, even a lengthy, 10-year deal for Harper could add up to $36 million, bringing the Phillies payroll this season along to more than $161 million.
But what would Trout demand after 2020? Former Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, who posted on his Twitter account perhaps with tongue in cheek, “If (Manny) Machado got 300 million… @MikeTrout is going to get 1 billion.” But even if Trout’s demands are not quite as high as Weaver speculates, the cost of adding both Harper and Trout could prove financially prohibitive for the Phillies.