Looks like it was a good idea to cheer Jayson Werth this weekend, Phillies fans.
The veteran outfielder, who left the Phils for a big-money contract with the rival Nationals, had bad blood with fans after his departure. With the feud behind him, Werth returned to Citizens Bank Park this weekend for the reunion of the 2008 World Series champions to a great ovation.
While talking to reporters Sunday, Werth was asked what he would say to former Washington teammate Bryce Harper — a former NL MVP and impending free agent — about Philadelphia if the young outfielder asked.
"I think he already has asked me about Philadelphia,'' Werth said.
"Isn't that tampering?'' he said with a laugh.
"It’s a great place to hit,” Werth added. “I’ve always loved hitting here. I’ve shared that among other things about this place. He’s a dynamic player for sure."
It’s kind of interesting that Harper asked the former Phillie about what it was like playing in Philly. Perhaps it was a general question that Harper asked Werth ahead of one the Nats’ series at CBP. Or maybe Harper asked Werth with his future free agency in mind.
Of course, a former Phil was asked a similar question not that long ago. Chase Utley was asked what he would say to new Dodger Manny Machado — also a free agent after the season — about Philadelphia.
"If you want to play in front of great fans that want to win in a beautiful ballpark, as long as you can deal with the humidity, go for it," Utley said.
Harper, a six-time All-Star, has had a down year, hitting just .231. He’s still managed to slug 26 homers and lead the NL with 88 walks. At 25, he’s just entering his prime.
The Phillies have plenty of money to spend and look like a team on the rise. Imagine adding a young, exciting player like Harper into the mix. Imagine adding Harper and Machado.
In reality, Machado probably makes more sense. The former Oriole wants to play shortstop, a position Matt Klentak was forced to upgrade with veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. Also, the Phillies outfield looks suddenly deep with Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera and also the emergence of Nick Williams and more recently Roman Quinn.
Expect stiff competition for Harper and Machado’s services. The Nationals will surely attempt to keep Harper and big market teams like the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers will also be among suitors for both All-Stars.