Bryce Harper will be wearing pinstripes next season — just not the blue kind.
The 26-year-old slugger is primed to land a massive payday in free agency this offseason, and having reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals, there’s only one team that has a pressing need for his services and is willing to match Harper’s desired price.
“The free agent outfielder, touted to be more popular than the Liberty Bell, looks to be headed to Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love,” USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale wrote Wednesday.
The Phillies, who have only two players signed beyond 2020 and whose primary right fielders, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr, combined for 25 home runs and 88 RBI last season, are prepared to offer Harper at least $400 million, according to Nightengale. With the New York Yankees likely to be more interested in Manny Machado, the other prize of this winter’s free-agent sweepstakes, the Phillies reportedly are the favorite to sign Harper.
“He will be standing in right field with the Phillies on March 28 at Citizens Bank Park when they open the season against the defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves,” Nightengale added. “Bank on it.”
With Harper filling out the lineup, the Phillies have the potential to have a potent offense on paper. On-base machines Cesar Hernandez and Carlos Santana would set the table for Harper and Rhys Hoskins, who clubbed 34 homers last season and appears to be headed back to his natural position at first base, in the middle of the order.
It’s somewhat terrifying to think what Harper might be capable of playing 81 games a year at Citizens Bank Park. Although the distances down the lines aren’t that much different than his former home at Nationals Park, the angles of the outfield fences make the park play much smaller to pull hitters.