The Angels have contacted Major League Baseball regarding Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper’s public recruitment of Angels star Mike Trout, a possible violation of tampering rules.
Harper, who signed a $330-million, 13-year contract with the Phillies late last week, told a Philadelphia radio station Tuesday that he planned to ask Trout to join him on the East Coast as soon as Trout became a free agent.
“If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy,” he said on SportsRadio 94WIP.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a text message to the L.A. Times that he was aware of the comments and “we’ve been in touch with MLB and we have no further comment at this time.”
An MLB spokesperson said Wednesday morning that the league is aware of the situation and has been in contact with the Angels and Phillies.
Trout, who is from Millville, N.J., and has season tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles, is under contract with the Angels through 2020. Angels owner Arte Moreno has indicated on multiple occasions that re-signing Trout to an extension is a top priority for his team.
That has not prevented Harper from stumping for Trout since the moment he first put on his Phillies jersey during his introductory news conference Saturday. He said that his club-friendly deal, which pays him roughly $26 million a year, left the Phillies room to add other players.
“I know there’s another guy in about two years who comes off the books,” Harper said then. “We’ll see what happens with him.”
Harper took his recruitment of Trout a step further Tuesday: “For me, I can be able to talk to Trout, or whoever it is, big-name free agent or whoever wants to come to Philly or is thinking about coming to Philly, I can say ‘Hey, this is the place to be. This is where the fans are great, ownership understands it, our manager is awesome.’ ”
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.