Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies

Angels crying wolf over Bryce Harper preparing to recruit Mike Trout

Bryce Harper went public with the idea he’ll recruit Mike Trout to the Phillies when appropriate, and the Angels have cried to MLB about it.

During Mike Trout’s time with the team, the Los Angeles Angels have made the playoffs once and it was a three-game ALDS exit. He’s got two years left on his contract, and after Bryce Harper’s 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies many are pointing to Trout as baseball’s first $400 million man.

Trout is a New Jersey native and a noted Philadelphia Eagles’ fan, so it’s easy to tie him to the Phillies if/when he becomes a free agent. If the best player in baseball becomes available, there will be teams lining up to give him a big pay day. Harper’s contract, while obviously big and long-term, keeps that option open for the Phillies.

Speaking to Sports Radio 94WIP in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Harper made it clear he’ll recruit Trout to join him in the Phillies’ outfield when the time comes.

If you don’t think I’m going to be calling Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly,” Harper said, “you are crazy.

Mentioning Trout’s name crossed a line into potential tampering, and Harper may face a fine. That said, his specific phrasing seems likely to save him.

Real tampering or not, according to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times, Angels general manager Billy Eppler said the team has already contacted MLB regarding Harper’s comments on Trout.

We’ve been in touch with MLB and we have no further comment at this time,

Harper said he talked to Trout a lot during his recent free agency, so the two appear to have a friendship on some level. That could not be called tampering though, since Harper was not on a team and was vetting his options.

The Angels have failed to maximize Trout’s prime with a team ready to come anywhere close to a deep postseason run, through a trail of bad contracts, a broad failure to build a good farm system and now a retread manager in Brad Ausmus to replace Mike Scioscia.

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None of that failure is Harper’s fault. He may have gone a step too far with his comments by specifically mentioning Trout, in the relaxed atmosphere of a radio appearance. But Eppler and the Angels’ tampering case should be laughed off quickly by the league office.

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