Phillies fans might be chomping at the bit for general manager Matt Klentak to go out and pursue Chicago Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant, but Bryce Harper isn’t.
The Phillies’ star outfielder — who grew up with Bryant in Las Vegas — didn’t seem too keen on the three-time All-Star.
The reason? Top prospect Alec Bohm, who is preparing to make the jump to the majors potentially in the next few months.
“I mean, you have to have certain guys on your team that make less money to also have guys that make more money, as well, Kris, of course, you want an All-Star-caliber player, but we have Bohm,” the $330 million man, Harper, said (h/t Meghan Montemurro, The Athletic). “We have a big-time third baseman and we were able to get him in the draft.”
Bohm made the jump to double-A last season where he slashed .269/.344/.500 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 63 games.
He’s still a longshot to make the Opening Day roster, however, meaning Scott Kingery would be the favorite to assume every-day responsibilities at third base.
Bryant would obviously be an upgrade at the position, coming off a 31-home-run season in which he batted .282.
But Harper has plenty of belief that Bohm could be the guy.
“Of course, any time you’re able to add an All-Star player you’re going to want to add an All-Star player. But you have to be able to know that you developed a player in the minor leagues that can also help you at third base, and Bohm could be that guy for us,” Harper said. “He could come up and be one of the best third basemen in the second half or whatever it is.”
Should Bohm’s development take longer, though, it’s only then that the Phillies should inquire about Bryant near the trade deadline— at least, according to Harper.
“You never know at the half what they’re going to be doing. [Bryant] could be cheaper,” he said. “But I can’t give up Spencer Howard and Bohm, and possibly give up our whole future, for a year and a half of KB if we don’t sign him to an extension.”
The 28-year-old Bryant recently lost his playing-time grievance against the Cubs, ensuring he won’t be a free agent until 2021 rather than 2020. When he hits the open market, though, he could command a $200 million contract.
That’s money that Harper believes could be spent elsewhere.
“I know there’s a guy in there that we need to sign to an extension,” Harper said, referring to catcher JT Realmuto. “I think having a guy like JT for the next six years would help us.”
Realmuto — who will be a free agent following the 2020 season — is one of the best catchers in the game coming off a career season in which he posted 25 home runs and 83 RBI.