Bryce Harper Taking Cues From LeBron James?
Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
LeBron James’ changed the NBA forever in his first offseason as a free agent. The idea of meeting with other free agents to decide on a destination, instead of selecting a destination based on the players they had and considered acquired had not been done. In an age where stars not only share agents but also share other contacts like skills or strength coaches, this shouldn’t come as a shock.
What’s more surprising is how this practice tends to only happen in the NBA. Rather, how it used to only happen in the NBA. Bryce Harper has changed that, according to MLB.com.
The newest Philadelphia Phillies outfielder reportedly told MLB.com he talked with Mike Trout a significant amount in the offseason.
“I talked to him a lot,” Harper said. “From November, all the way through the process.”
How did the two come into contact? They played together in the Arizona Fall League in 2011.
“We’ve kept in contact over the last seven years,” Harper said. “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.”
In his opening press conference, Harper even alluded to Trout possibly coming to Philly when his contract with the Angels finishes up. It would help explain why Harper went for the Phillies’ deal instead of the Dodgers’, which reportedly had a greater average annual value.
Now, this all seems to be fair play on Harper’s end. He talked to a friend about his plans and what he wanted to do while he was a man without a home. It’s very far from James taking someone like Anthony Davis to dinner prior to a game, only for Davis to reportedly ask for a trade soon after, allegedly listing LeBron’s team as a preferred destination.
The bigger issue: will this create a problem for Major League Baseball if other players follow suit?
It could impact small market teams negatively, sure. But some of them have served as unofficial minor league affiliates for the Yankees and other major market teams for decades. So, it’s not much of a change.
The competitive balance could suffer slightly, as well, though not necessarily in the same capacity as the NBA. While powerhouse teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Houston Astros showed in 2018 how dominant a loaded lineup can be while other teams appear to tank, the general nature of baseball makes it near impossible for teams to win a ring on star-power alone.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) March 1, 2019
At the same time, the Phillies should be able to take the NL East comfortably. As much as they should do well against the top teams, having a stacked lineup should make it easy to roll over the subpar teams Philly faces.
But that all changes once October rolls around.