Bryce Harper had plenty of time to mull over which team he would sign with this offseason.
The star outfielder spent months on the free agency market before landing with the Philadelphia Phillies with a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million dollar deal that will keep the slugger in the City of Brotherly Love until he is 39 years old.
Philadelphia was the front-runner to land the former Washington National from the get-go, and it appears the Phillies got some outside help from one notable native of Southern New Jersey:Mike Trout.
Harper revealed Saturday during his introductory press conference that he turned to the Los Angeles Angels star quite early in the process.
“I talked to him a lot,” Harper said. “From November, all the way through the process.
“Just seeing where he grew up in Philly, things like that,” Harper said. “I played with him in the (Arizona) Fall League (in 2011), and we’ve kept in contact over the last seven years. But just trying to get a hometown kid to tell me what he felt, how he felt about the organization and the area and things like that. He’s a kid who grew up seeing the Phillies have success, so going through those times with the fans and things like that. It was good to get his perspective and hear how he felt.”
Trout grew up Millville, N.J., and is not shy about his love for Philadelphia sports. He has Eagles season tickets andattended the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship parade.
Harper’s deal in Philadelphia includes no opt-outs and a full no-trade clause, meaning he is in Philly for the long run, and likely plans to recruit some other stars to come join him, with Trout chief among potential recruits. And he referred to Trout’s upcoming free agency during the press conference.
“I’m making $26 (million) a year, something like that, so I think that’s going to be able to bring some other guys in as well to be able to help this organization win,” Harper said. “I know there’s another guy in about two years that comes off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.”
Trout likely will break every record imaginable with his next contract after the 2020 season, and there will be plenty of teams in the hunt for the center fielder.
One thing is for sure, an outfield combination of Harper and Trout would be a marketing dream come true for Major League Baseball, which has struggled to market its stars, especially the likes of Trout, who despite being the best all-around player in the game gets less attention while playing on the West Coast.
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Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images