CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper wants the Philadelphia Phillies to add another big bat for the lineup.
The reigning NL MVP said Monday it would be a « downer » if the Phillies didn’t sign Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber. The teams needs a left fielder and President Dave Dombrowski said Sunday ownership hasn’t given him any limitations on spending money.
« I think all three are winners, » Harper said during a 10-minute chat with reporters in front of his locker. « I think they’ve proven that. Schwarber, of course, he won in Chicago, did a great job for the Red Sox last year, and the Nationals. He’s a winner as a player. KB can play everywhere, third base, first base, DH, left field. He’s a winner as well, and he’s done that. He’s come up in big spots, big situations. And then Nicky, I really enjoy him as a player, a good left fielder. He’d be a great middle-of-the-order beats for us. »
« But, that’s for [Dombrowski] to figure out to give us the best ability for us to win. There’s definitely a couple of guys out there that a lot of guys in this clubhouse would like to see come in and kind of give us a sense of we’re here to win it and we have an opportunity to do that, » he said.
Harper indirectly put pressure on the front office to sign one of those sluggers, though he said he doesn’t need to remind Dombrowski or owner John Middleton to make a move. Harper was quite vocal about the team resigning All-Star catcher JT Realmuto in 2020.
« They know the type of guys we need in this clubhouse, » Harper said. « There’s a lot of players out there who are really, really good. Some of them fit our team. Some of them fit the mold. Some of them don’t. I don’t see us going crazy on [Carlos] Correa or anything like that because it doesn’t make sense for us, right? But there’s a couple guys out there that would definitely make sense for us. They know that. I don’t need to reiterate that. The fan base knows that. The city of Philadelphia knows that.
« We definitely need somebody who gives us the best chance to win. When you get a caliber player like that, it raises the energy in the clubhouse that much more, knowing your team is behind you, your organization is behind you and it gives you the best chance to win every night out there. »
The Phillies finished 82-80 last season, their first winning record since 2011, but extended their postseason drought to an NL-worst 10 years.
Since the lockout ended, the Phillies have added a pair of late-inning relievers and brought back a familiar face. They’ve agreed to contracts with outfielder Odubel Herrera, right-hander Jeurys Familia and lefty Brad Hand, according to a source familiar with those deals. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the moves are pending the players passing a physical.
Herrera could platoon with Matt Vierling in center field. Herrera, an All-Star in 2016, batted .260 with 13 homers, 51 RBI and had a .310 on-base percentage last year after returning to the team following a suspension in 2019 for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
Hand was a three-time All-Star between 2017-20 when he totaled 103 saves with a 2.63 ERA. He struggled last season in Washington and Toronto but finished strong with the Mets. Overall, he was 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA and 21 saves in 2021.
Before the lockout, the Phillies signed righty Corey Knebel to be their closer.
Meanwhile, Harper sees the Mets making a big splash in the NL East, adding Max Scherzer, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte and Mark Canha, among others. Harper praised Mets owner Steve Cohen, saying he’s doing a « great job. »
« They’re going to be a very good team, » he said. « He’s doing what’s best for the Mets and their fan base and their organization and they’re going out and getting the players they need to compete. »
The defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves, another division rival, acquired All-Star slugger Matt Olson to replace Freddie Freeman.