Updated: 5:31 p.m.
Major League Baseball is aware of Bryce Harper’s comments Tuesday about Mike Trout and has reached out to the Phillies.
Clearly, the Angels weren’t happy and Harper’s going to get a little tutorial on baseball’s definition of tampering.
There is no word yet on an official reprimand. It would be determined by commissioner Rob Manfred.
“They talked to me a little bit, not MLB or anything like that,” Harper said after homering in a simulated game Wednesday. “When that time comes, when guys are free agents, we’ll see what happens.
“If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t have said it.”
Harper, at the very end of his interview with Jon Marks and Ike Reese on WIP’s Afternoon Show Tuesday, said this about recruiting stars to Philly. He mentioned Trout by name, expanding on the hint he made at his intro Saturday.
“That’s one thing about this contract that I’m able to do. Having 13 years in one place, I can help recruit guys to this organization,” Harper said.
“For me, I can be able to talk to Trout or whoever it is, big-name free agent 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.’ I can really put that faith in myself and being able to say we’re gonna go about it the right way, we’re the Philadelphia Phillies and we want whoever wants to come to Philly. If you don’t wanna come to Philly, then don’t come, don’t be a part of it. But if you want to be a part of a winning team, a winning culture, then we’re gonna need the best players to do that and I don’t think John (Middleton)’s scared to go out and get the best guys that we need to have.
It’s respecting Mike Trout in a certain way during the season and letting him play and do the things he needs to do to of course be Mike Trout, but if you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you’re crazy.
Trout, too, was asked about this Wednesday.
“Obviously I saw it,” Trout told reporters in Arizona. “He’s excited. He’s excited about his team. I have no control what he says.”
It was a pretty clear example of tampering, even though Harper was referring to the period after Trout is set for free agency.
There are a few recent examples of players hearing from the league about comments they made about guys on other teams.
Last spring, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge revealed to reporters that during a spring training game, he told Manny Machado that “You’d look pretty good in pinstripes, too.”
Judge received a warning from MLB.
“I thought he was going to end up playing with me this year,” Ortiz told the Boston Herald of Fernandez in the summer of ’16. “I mean, you never know. I want him in my starting rotation. I mean, we need a little bit of help and hopefully that happens at some point, who knows?”
“The Red Sox know that they need to reinforce the middle of the lineup,” Ortiz later said. “And sorry Blue Jays, but who better than Encarnacion to do that?”
The league reminded Ortiz of its tampering rules but did not fine him.
Harper was walking a fine line here. He’s clearly excited about being a Phillie and the potential of luring other superstars to his new home. He probably knew that what he said Tuesday about Trout would earn him a slap on the wrist and also probably didn’t care. His message to Trout and the rest of the league was clear. His words had the desired impact, and Harper can now put that on the back-burner while he focuses on 2019.
“Given our rules, players recruiting other players who are still under contract or under reserve to another club is a rule violation,” commissioner Manfred told the Associated Press. “So, obviously not anxious to see that.”
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