Ahead of the 2019 season, the Bryce Harper sweepstakes took center stage in Major League Baseball – and kept Chicago Cubs fans’ fingers crossed until they finally concluded on Mar. 1, when he inked a massive 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Before our hopes were dashed, the thought of Harper coming to Chicago to play along lifelong friend and fellow Las Vegas native Kris Bryant was surely enticing. Instead, Cubs ownership started pinching pennies and those hopes went up in smoke. But now, with Bryant out there in the free agent waters, could we see this combination come together in Philadelphia instead?
We know the Phillies are looking for outfield help this winter. Besides Harper, the only guy in the mix in the outfield is Matt Vierling, a former fifth-rounder, who got his first taste of big league action in 2021, making quite the impression in 34 games with an .843 OPS.
Bryant, who has long been known for his versatility, could not only give the team a badly-needed quality bat in the outfield, but also provide an insurance policy at both corner infield spots.
This season, which was of course split between Chicago and San Francisco, Bryant managed a 3.3 bWAR and a 124 OPS+ while seeing action in all three outfield spots, as well as first and third base. He wasn’t quite as strong with the Giants down the stretch as he was early on with the Cubs, but there’s still little doubt he’s one of the most talented players in the game today.
Chicago Cubs, along with several other teams, interested in Kris Bryant
We heard recently from FanSided’s own Robert Murray that we ‘shouldn’t rule out’ the possibility Bryant returns to the North Side before it’s all said and done, but regardless, it’s pretty clear there’s a strong market for the former Rookie of the Year and MVP.
Assuming the Phillies and Cubs both have some degree of interest in Bryant’s services, they can be added to a list that also features the Giants, Mariners, Mets and Rockies. With the lockout freezing all talks between teams and agents, we’re stuck waiting to see where he’ll call home next.
But you can bet Phillies fans are picturing the same types of things we were a few years ago: two childhood friends in the same lineup, patrolling the outfield and – if everything works as planned – hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy together one day.