MLB rumors: Did Bryce Harper just send a Kris Bryant trade message?

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Is this Harper sending deadline message to Phils' brass? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Things get lost in the shuffle when Andrew McCutchen smacks a walk-off three-run dinger to right field to give the Phillies a dramatic come-from-behind win.

Things like, say, Bryce Harper maybe sending the Phillies' front office a quiet little message?

During his at-bat in the ninth inning, right before McCutchen's homer, NBC Sports Philadelphia's cameras caught a close-up of the bat Harper was using. His weapon of choice bore a very intriguing name:

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Hmm. Unless I missed something, Kris Bryant doesn't play for the Phillies.

Yet.

Now, Harper has a history of using other players' bats - he hit his first as a member of the Phillies with a Nick Williams bat - and Harper and Bryant have known each other since grade school, so this isn't 100 percent out of field.

However! It sure feels at least a little pointed considering the Cubs seem ready to tear down their core by this week's trade deadline, and Bryant has been perhaps the buzziest non-pitcher piece in trade winds. The Phillies had scouts at a Cubs game last week, as did the Mets. 

Harper is also famously not afraid to send subtle messages to the Phillies' decision-makers, as he did last year when he routinely wore a J.T. Realmuto shirt while the organization figured out whether or not to sign Realmuto to a long-term deal.

Bryant won't come cheap, but he'd represent an immediate and sizable upgrade at third base over Alec Bohm, who has struggled defensively and hasn't had the same pop off his bat as he did in 2020. Bryant is also an unrestricted free agent after this season, so the Phils would likely have to pony up for an extension or risk making an expensive rental move while they're not specific World Series contenders.

It's not as obvious a move as making a trade for someone like the Cubs' Craig Kimbrel or really any other bullpen help, but Bryant would bring some real juice to the lineup - and would also probably keep the Phillies' superstar happy as they eye the postseason. Just something to think about.

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