CLEARWATER, Fla. — You have Harper Mania. Your neighbor has Harper Mania. The caller on the radio show has Harper Mania. The guy getting his coffee and a turkey shorti at Wawa has Harper Mania.
Everyone is going just a little crazy waiting to see if Bryce Harper is going to be a Phillie.
Even the players.
“I saw a helicopter circling over here the other day and we were joking, saying it would be funny if he just landed here and got out,” Andrew McCutchen said Saturday.
Harper Mania reached a boil Friday night when Phillies owner John Middleton’s private jet — Air Middleton — touched down in Las Vegas. Middleton traveled to Harper’s hometown for a second face-to-face meeting — the first was in mid-January — as talks between the Phillies and the free-agent slugger intensified.
The Phils are widely considered the favorite to sign Harper, but you know relentless agent Scott Boras will work every last market and mystery team until his client makes a decision. The Phillies would love to see this thing resolved — one way or the other — in the next handful of days. When it’s over, Harper is expected to top the $300 million that Manny Machado got from San Diego earlier this week and maybe the record $325 million guarantee that Giancarlo Stanton received from Miami in a contract extension in November 2014.
Players like McCutchen — he signed with the Phils in December — are already fantasizing a little about what Harper could do for the Phillies.
“It changes the team,” he said. “It changes a lot for whatever team that he’s on. We feel like we have a really good team here. The Phillies have done a good job of getting some guys over here, getting (Jean) Segura, getting (J.T.) Realmuto, getting (David) Robertson. It’s a great team here and he’s only going to make it better. It would be amazing.”
McCutchen believes the Phillies have the talent to make a playoff run.
“I haven’t played a game yet but with the names of the guys we have around, I think we definitely have the ability to do that,” he said. “We have the talent here. We just have to put it together as a team.”
Adding Harper would enhance the club’s chances of making the playoffs. But good teams need more than talent.
McCutchen locked his hands together to create a tight bond.
“You can have a great, talented team but if you don’t have this, you’re not going to win,” he said, stressing the bond. “I don’t know if there’s ever been one team that won a championship that didn’t have that. It's always the final piece of the puzzle.”
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