Last week, Bryce Harper ended a free agency chase that lasted close to four months — signing with the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years and $330 million. Despite some late overtures from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, the Phillies got their man in the end.
With Harper set to wear a new uniform in the 2019 MLB season, the onus will be on him to live up to his lucrative contract. However, it might not be easy doing so in front of Philadelphia’s notoriously tough crowds, as Harper’s former teammate, Jayson Werth, cautioned in a recent interview with The Athletic.
Speaking to the subscriber-only publication in a report published Tuesday, Werth predicted that Harper could receive boos from Phillies fans as early as his first game with the team. The 39-year-old former MLB outfielder, who signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals two years after helping the Phillies to a World Series victory, was speaking from experience. Werth recalled the boos he received whenever the Nationals would play in Philadelphia.
As quoted by The Sporting News, Werth specifically looked back on Harper’s reaction upon hearing those boos as a relative MLB newcomer with the Nationals.
“He just looked at me, like, ‘They keep booing you, huh? Geez,'” Werth recalled. “Then he just kind of shook his head, like ‘Why?’… Just didn’t get it. Maybe he just didn’t understand it. But he will understand it. He definitely will understand it.”
Although it’s possible Bryce Harper won’t get booed by the Phillies faithful at Citizens Bank Park in his first home game for the team, Werth predicted that the boos would come eventually — due to his former teammate’s “streaky” nature.
“He gets hot. He gets cold. You know how that’s going to go.”
Me to Jayson Werth: What's the over/under on the first time Bryce gets booed in Philly?— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 5, 2019
Werth: “Could be his first game....You think that’s out of the realm of possibility?”
Here's Werth on booing, Philly, Harper's obsession with Chase Utley's bats & more https://t.co/qQXz8WpVvC
As seen on his Baseball-Reference player page, Harper has been alternating between batting above.300 and below.250 since the 2015 season, where he won National League MVP honors with the Nationals. Despite such statistical inconsistencies, Harper has played in six All-Star Games in seven seasons in the majors. As Werth sees it, there could be many more All-Star Games and MVP awards to come for the superstar right fielder, even with the expected high points and low points — and the presence of Philadelphia’s passionate fan base.
“I think I see more good times than bad. I see eight to 10 All-Star appearances, two MVPs and two World Series… I’ve already said that if he goes to the Hall [of Fame], he’ll go to the Hall as a Phillie,” Werth concluded.