"I feel this is the best division in baseball; I do not think that's a question," the 28-year-old superstar stated in a videoconference call on Thursday. "We've got five teams... that are really good. I think this will be a juggernaut of a division."
The Phillies finished in third place last year, four games beneath .500, as Harper played with a bad back, which at times prevented him by throwing a baseball. After an offseason of rehabilitation, the pain is gone and he is ready to lead the Phillies, though there were instances this winter he had doubts about what the club's roster could look like.
"We were kind of sitting there, figuring out what we needed to do as an organization," Harper said.
Subsequently Dave Dombrowski was hired as staff president and everything shifted. Harper knew the organization meant business.
"When he arrived, it was sort of like'Whoa, here we go,'" Harper said. "You don't really bring in Dombrowski unless it's a win-now kind of movement. I believe Dombrowski has done a fantastic job. ... The way Dombrowski works, he might not be done yet."
Harper mentioned the re-signing of catcher J.T. Realmuto and enhancing a depleted bullpen as difference-making moves from Dombrowski this winter. However, the Phillies will need to outduel a revamped New York Mets team as well as the defending division winners, the Atlanta Braves, to assure themselves a postseason bid.
"I will tell you that. The city of Philadelphia deserves it. Everybody knows what the last couple years looks like. We are looking forward."
Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies before the 2019 year, only to see his former group, the Washington Nationals, win the World Series that fall. The Nationals are also an NL East contender in 2021, while the Miami Marlins were a postseason entrant in 2020, giving all five teams from the group reason for hope this season. Harper's assessment of the division might be spot on.
"I only want to be able to win," he explained. "We are going to test everything in our ability to do that within an organization. Success for a team instead of success as folks is what you want."
Harper had nothing but favorable things to say about the Phillies as an organization, despite some failings on the area. They've let him be himself, and with Dombrowski at the fold, Harper might eventually get his desire to go back to the playoffs.
"I adore postseason baseball," Harper said. "I really like the mentality of it. It's always a lot of fun. The fans are craving it so much."