When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract on February 28, attention soon turned to whether the Phillies might also pursue Mike Trout, another superstar outfielder with ties to the area, if he reaches free agency in two years.
In a Sports Illustrated story about the signing of Harper the day after the signing, a Phillies club source was quoted as saying that the team had to keep future money in reserve for Trout in mind this offseason. When Harper was introduced in a press conference at the Phillies’ spring training facility Saturday (per The Inquisitr), he said, in reference to Trout, “there’s another guy that comes off the books in two years, we’ll see what happens with him.”
And then Harper, in an interview Tuesday on WIP in Philadelphia, actually mentioned Trout by name in the course of saying that he plans to recruit free agents to join him with the Phillies.
“If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy,” Harper said in the interview.
This appeared to have been the last straw for Trout’s current team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels have contacted the Major League Baseball league office, alleging a possible violation of league tampering rules, per The Los Angeles Times.
“We’ve been in touch with MLB and we have no further comment at this time,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler told the newspaper.
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) March 6, 2019
Trout is under contract with the Angels for two more years, and if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Angels before then, he’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. Trout, per The Inquisitr, has said that he doesn’t want to engage in extension talks during spring training or the regular season.
A native of Millville, N.J., Trout grew up a fan of the Phillies and is a regular presence at Philadelphia Eagles home games. He even vacationed with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, going on a hunting trip during the Eagles’ bye week last November, per USA Today.
Major League Baseball has sanctioned players in the past for similar violations, such as when David Ortiz of the Red Sox, at the All-Star Game in 2016, received a warning letter from baseball for saying that the Red Sox should sign Edwin Encarnacion, who at the time played for the Toronto Blue Jays, per ESPN. Ortiz was not fined, however.