Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler Defends Bryce Harper: “Welcome to the Family!”

Getty TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Managert Gabe Kapler #22 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on prior to the Grapefruit League spring training game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on February 26, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Bryce Harper had a minor slip of the tongue at his opening press conference for the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday. He said, “We want to bring a title back to D.C.” This, of course, refers to the Washington Nationals, his previous team since 2012.

His new manager Gabe Kapler seemed to come to his defense on social media. His tweet deflected the attention away from the verbal miscue, instead focusing on welcoming the $330 million Harper to the City of Brotherly Love.

“The first thing that stood out to me about @Bharper3407 is how much he wants to win,” Kapler tweeted. “He is driven to be great and will stop at nothing to get there. He is exactly the type of player Philly loves, and we’re better because we have him. Welcome to the family!”

The 26-year old comes to Philadelphia after accumulating a .249 batting average, 34 home runs, 100 RBIs and 103 runs last summer in the nation’s capital. The Nationals drafted him with the No. 1 pick in the June 2010 MLB Amateur Draft out of the College of Southern Nevada.

In 2012, he took home NL Rookie of the Year honors after belting 22 homers and 59 RBIs with a .270 average. His best season came in 2015 when he amassed 42 dingers, 118 RBIs and an absurd 1.109 OPS. The efforts earned him the NL MVP.

Bryce Harper | 2015 Home RunsEvery Home Run hit by Bryce Harper in 2015 2015: .330 AVG 42 HR 99 RBI All rights go to Major League Baseball2016-03-06T05:15:39.000Z

Harper and Phillies agreed to a record 13-year, $330 million contract Thursday, cementing the largest deal in baseball history. Incentives, as outlined by the Associated Press, include an extra $50,000 each time he is an All-Star, wins a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger or is selected League Championship Series MVP. A World Series MVP trophy would be worth an additional $100,000.

He would also receive an additional $500,000 if he is league MVP.

Kapler, meanwhile, played professionally as an outfielder from 1998-2010. The Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 57th round in 1998 out of Cal-State Fullerton. Between his time with the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox, Brewers and Rays, he batted .268 on average and chipped in 82 home runs.

Before leading the Phillies, he served as the Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development starting in 2014. Philadelphia hired him in 2018, and he led the team to an 80-82 record and a third-place finish in the NL East.

Harper has yet to play past the NLDS, as the Nationals have not reached the Championship Series once in franchise history. Philadelphia last won the World Series in 2008, something Kapler and company hope to replicate with the addition of their expensive new asset.