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March 06, 2019

Report: Phillies' Bryce Harper could be fined for tampering (and saying 'Mike Trout')

Bryce Harper is a Phillie and there is sure to be no shortage of drama, storylines and intrigue as he begins his 13-year career in Philadelphia.

It didn't take much time for controversy to find him, as he shamelessly said he would recruit Mike Trout to come join him when his contract runs out in 2020.

“We’re gonna go about things the right way," Harper said during an appearance Tuesday on 94WIP. "We’re the Philadelphia Phillies and we want whoever wants to come to Philly. If you don’t want to come to Philly, then don’t come. Don’t be part of it. But if you want to be a part of a winning team and a winning culture, then we’re gonna need the best players to do that.  

“I think it’s respecting Mike Trout in a certain way during the season and letting him play and do the things he needs to do to, of course, be Mike Trout. But if you don’t think I’m not going to call Mike Trout in 2020 and have him come to Philly, you’re crazy.”

Is that tampering? Hard to say. But the Angels, Trout's current team, wants to know for sure.

The L.A. Times' Maria Torres gave the following of an example of tampering in the recent past:

MLB has rules on tampering that prevent players from enticing others to join clubs that are not their own while they are still under contract, even in a hypothetical sense. The league has reprimanded players for enticing others to join their teams in the past, such as when David Ortiz received a warning letter for publicly lobbying the Boston Red Sox to sign Edwin Encarnacion in 2016. The league can also issue fines. [LA Times]

The NBA has had particular issues with tampering, famously fining the Lakers $500,000 two years ago for their handling of their interest in Paul George (it was their second violation). Just this year, one of the Bucks' co-owners was fined $25k for tampering with Anthony Davis back before the trade deadline.

In the NFL, the Chiefs once lost a draft pick and were fined for tampering in 2016.  

According to MLB insider Jeff Passan, Harper could potentially be fined for his comments, particularly for saying Trout's name.

Of course, Harper is the $330 million man and any fine would be a drop in an ocean of wealth for him to pay. 

More interestingly, it's some early insight into just what kind of guy the Phillies are getting in Harper. He appears to be as close as baseball has to LeBron James. And like James, he wants to get as many of his friends to help him win as possible (J.T. Realmuto was the first of these). 

James has never been accused of tampering but he's found ways to work around the NBA's rules. Here's hoping Harper finds a way to continue his recruitment in a "legal" way, as Trout plays out the final two years on his Los Angeles contract.

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