Bryce Harper Says He Never Met with Magic Johnson During Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 09: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies stretches in the first inning  during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 09, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Magic Johnson played an instrumental role in bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles, but the NBA Hall of Famer didn't lobby on behalf of the Los Angeles Dodgers to land Bryce Harper.

In December, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown and Jeff Passan spoke to Johnson, who refuted rumors he was part of a Dodgers convoy that met with Harper. Harper backed up that statement during an interview with ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown.

"My favorite was the time we met with Magic Johnson and the Dodgers," Harper said as he and his wife recapped the various gossip they had heard. "That was a good one. We never met with him."

While Johnson is obviously focused on his role as president of basketball operations for the Lakers, he remains a part-owner of the Dodgers. Given both his connection to the franchise and general status as an L.A. sports icon, he would've made sense as a Dodgers emissary in any formal meeting with Harper.

It's doubtful his absence during the negotiating process had any discernible impact on Los Angeles' failure to sign Harper.

The Dodgers had seemingly fallen out of the running until re-entering the fray as Harper remained unsigned. ESPN's Buster Olney reported, however, that Los Angeles preferred to give the six-time All-Star a shorter deal than the terms he was seeking.

According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Dodgers were prepared to put a four-year contract offer on the table, with Harper earning $45 million annually.

While that would've set an MLB record for the highest annual salary, it didn't provide Harper with much long-term security.

He eventually signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last month. Unless Johnson came with a similar contract in tow, his presence almost certainly wouldn't have tipped the scales in the Dodgers' favor before Harper made his final decision.