Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies have consistently been unable to get on the same page. When he initially signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the organization, there was optimism the two sides would fit well together.
Up to this point, they have not.
Over the past few months Harper has been very vocal in demanding that the Phillies re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto at any expense. He has both publicly and privately expressed his displeasure with the front office for not working out a contract extension with Realmuto, despite the totally understandable budgetary matters at play.
Harper’s over-the-top campaign started with little things like yelling “Sign him!” after Realmuto hit a homer in a scrimmage and mimicking signing a contract following a Realmuto home run in the second outing of the season. Then he switched it up and just started straight up demanding the move.
“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year — plain and simple,” Harper decreed at the end of the season.
“He’s the best catcher in baseball. He’s the best hitting catcher in baseball. Our guys love to throw to him. Anybody that’s the best at their position — hitting and fielding — needs to be signed, and that is J.T. Realmuto. I don’t think that should even be a question.”
Harper’s increasingly vocal mandates have been met with teeth-gritting patience within he organization and visible annoyance among the fan base.
Well, if Harper wasn’t eating up so much salary – might actually be possible.
— John Anderson (@MrMet33) September 27, 2020
Did anyone ask if they should keep Harper around?
— Erik (@Erik_Rogers_) September 27, 2020
Primadonna that will never win anything. Needed him out of Washington in order to win a pennant! Good riddance!
— Mark E. Jones (@bballjones743) September 28, 2020
It is not unreasonable that Harper wants his friend and a legitimately great player on the Phillies, but the manner in which he is going about it is tedious and annoying.
Philly will have a ton of competition for Realmuto. The New York Mets will make a very serious push for him, as may the New York Yankees. With the way things currently stand, people within the Phillies organization are reportedly “not optimistic” that they will be able to re-sign the 29-year-old. When the team acquired Realmuto almost two years ago, everyone understood that things could end this way. Everyone except Harper, apparently.
The larger problem here is that when Harper signed on with the Phillies for the next decade and change, both sides felt like they would mutually benefit from the arrangement. Harper would be an integral, foundational piece with a group he actually liked. Philly would get a bonafide star who would help the franchise return to the postseason.
He said the wrong thing about Kobe. Lakers fans reacted. https://t.co/nGVqaa2H1V
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 14, 2020
So far, Harper hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain. He has been streaky, hurt and has not been the difference-maker that someone in his tax bracket should be.
This past year, he got off to a hot start – only to then go 9 of 66 with three total home runs over a 29-game stretch between August and September. Harper then briefly broke out of that slump, only to immediately enter another rough run where he went 1 of 17.
Yes, the back issues slowed him down – but it is always something with Harper. There is always a reason for why he’s streaky and his teams underperform.
Not exactly how Dwight Howard thought this week would go. https://t.co/owe7bdMtc0
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 14, 2020
On paper, Harper is a tremendous talent. Unfortunately in reality he comes with a ton of baggage.
Two years into this massive partnership, and the relationship between Harper and Philadelphia is already on the rocks due to a solid, but not $200 million worthy catcher. Add that to the fact that the team still cannot make the playoffs, and the fan base’s growing dislike for their extremely well compensated star, and you start seeing a recipe for disaster.
Based on everything that has transpired up to this point, with the way things are trending, it is hard to see a scenario where these two sides don’t soon find themselves in an untenable situation.