Bryce Harper is fishing for Trout.
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper sharing the same outfield? It’s not such a crazy idea, and Harper insists he wants to see it happen.
Harper, less than a week after finalizing a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, told a Philadelphia radio station on Tuesday he’s planning on recruiting Trout to the club when the Los Angeles Angels outfielder becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.
“If you don’t think I’m going to be calling Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you’re crazy,” Harper said during an interview with 94.1 WIP hosts Jon Marks and Ike Reese.
“For me, I can be able to talk to Trout, or whoever it is, big-name free agent or whoever wants to come to Philly or is thinking about coming to Philly. I can say, ‘Hey, this is the place to be. This is where the fans are great, ownership understands it, our manager is awesome.”
Harper’s deal may be the largest free agent contract in North American sports history, but it actually works to the Phillies advantage. Harper will make an average of $25.5 million over the next 13 seasons, giving the team flexibility to chase other top free agents like Trout. Harper admits he signed for a lesser yearly salary because of the possibility of getting other stars to join him in Philadelphia, even alluding to Trout at his introductory press conference in Clearwater, Florida on Saturday.
With Harper’s deal, the Phillies carry a $189 million payroll into this season, $16 million under the luxury tax threshold, according to Spotrac. In two years that can drop to $127 million if the club doesn’t exercise options on pitchers Jake Arrieta and David Robertson. That will leave the Phillies with only six guaranteed contracts past 2020 and more than $80 million under the luxury tax to work with, allowing them to potentially offer Trout what might be baseball’s first $400 million contract.
For Trout, signing with the Phillies will be a homecoming of sorts. The 27-year-old grew up in Millville, New Jersey, less than an hour drive away from Citizens Bank Park. His fandom of Philadelphia sports teams is no secret. Harper even says he talked with Trout about life in the city before signing his deal.
A potential Harper-Trout outfield will give the Phillies the most formidable duo in the league. The two combined to hit 73 home runs and drive in 179 runs last season for the Washington Nationals and Angels, respectively. Trout leads all active players in OPS; Harper is seventh. They will also still be in the prime of their careers in 2021 when Trout will be 29 and Harper 28. Add in Andrew McCutchen, and the Phillies will have three former MVPs in their outfield.
The possibility of them teaming up, however, will have to remain just a dream for Philadelphia sports fans for the next two years. But it’s not inconceivable they could be playing together in 2021, something that will thrill Phillies fans and instill fear in everyone else.