That was only eight months ago.
Things would be much uglier right now if the Phillies made that move for Bryant, a longtime friend of Harper's and fellow Las Vegas native. Bryant had his worst season in 2020 while Bohm hit .338 and might win NL Rookie of the Year.
It was only two months, but in those two months, Bohm showed an appealing and sustainable skill set while the confusing downward trajectory of Bryant's career continued.
Bryant was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the MVP in 2016. In his first three big-league seasons, he hit .288/.388/.527 and averaged 34 homers and 97 RBI per 162 games.
In his last three seasons, Bryant has hit .269/.369/.478 and averaged 28 homers and 81 RBI per 162 games. A nearly 50-point drop-off in slugging for someone billed as a power hitter.
This season, Bryant hit .206 with a .644 OPS. Bohm had twice as many hits as Bryant.
Back in February, the Cubs and Bryant went to arbitration to figure out whether he'd gain an extra year of service time for Chicago's clear roster manipulation in 2015. That year, Bryant was ready to play out of spring training but the Cubs delayed his call-up until one day after the cutoff. Had he been called up earlier, he would have received a full year of service time in 2015 and reached free agency this winter as opposed to next.
The Phillies acted similarly this summer with Spencer Howard, waiting to call him up until they could gain the extra year of club control. Right or wrong, it's the current rule and every team does it.
According to reports, Bryant and the Cubs have not come close to common ground in extension talks. He will be a free agent after 2021.
Back in February, Harper sized up the situation the way a forward-thinking general manager would.
"I mean, you have to have certain guys on your team that make less money to also have guys that make more money," he said. "Kris, of course you want an All-Star-caliber player, but we have (Alec) Bohm. We have a big-time third baseman and we were able to get him in the draft.
"Any time you're able to add an All-Star-caliber player, you're going to want to add an All-Star player. But you have to be able to know you developed a player in the minor leagues that can also help you at third base, and Bohm could be that guy for us. He could come up and be one of the best third basemen in the second half or whatever it is.
"I can't give up Spencer Howard and Bohm, and possibly give up our whole future, for a year-and-a-half of KB if we don't sign him to an extension. And I know there's a guy in there that we need to sign to an extension. I think having a guy like J.T. [Realmuto] for the next six years would help us."
Bohm is going to make about $500,000 in 2021. Bryant is going to make about $20 million — 40 times more.
The Phillies still haven't worked out that Realmuto extension and will need to outbid other teams in free agency to keep him.
The Cubs face an uncertain offseason as well. They were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Marlins. Their offense was stale and ineffective for most of the season. Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez hit a combined .210. The Cubs ranked in the bottom-third in runs, batting average and slugging. Shaking things up offensively would appear to be the way to go. Much like the 2008 Phillies, the 2016 Cubs seemed capable of winning multiple World Series before reality got in the way.