Bryce Harper

Free agent outfielder Bryce Harper is one of the top players on the open market. The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the teams expected to make a play for the former All-Star. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

The Phillies made a trade earlier this week.

They acquired All-Star shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners.

It was a good move. But there better be more to come.

The baseball winter meetings will be held in Las Vegas from Monday-Thursday.

Coincidentally, Las Vegas is the birthplace of prized free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.

Make no mistake about it — the Phillies must sign Harper.

He’s 26, a former National League MVP and in the prime of his career. He’s not going to come cheap. Let’s start with an opening bid of $400 million for 10 years and go from there.

It will be worth it.

Want to make Rhys Hoskins a better hitter? Put Harper in the lineup. Harper’s presence ensures Hoskins and every other Phillies hitter will get more pitches to hit. Harper is a natural for cozy Citizens Bank Park with 11 home runs in 102 at-bats the past four seasons in Philadelphia.

Harper gives the Phillies star power. More and more, that’s what drives attendance and fan interest. The Phillies don’t have a star. It’s a fair bet to say this Christmas more Philadelphia sports fans will receive jerseys with the names Embiid and Wentz on the back than all the Phillies’ players combined.

Segura won’t sell tickets. Harper sells tickets.

Harper also fits a need. The Phillies current outfield situation is a hot mess.

With the Segura trade and the departure of Carlos Santana, Hoskins shifts from left field to his natural position of first base.

That leaves the Phillies with current outfielders Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr.

But Herrera’s numbers have declined the past two seasons. Williams is better suited as a fourth outfielder. Quinn is a hamstring pull away from the 60-day disabled list, and Altherr spent most of last summer in triple-A.

“If we went into this season with this group of outfielders, I’d be content with that,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in a conference call to reporters after the Segura trade. “We’re expecting Odubel to bounce back. We’re very excited with what Quinn did at the end of the year. We’ve talked about the improvements Nick Williams has made to his offensive game, and we know Aaron Altherr is a better player than he showed last year.”

Despite what Klentak’s overly sunny forecast depicts, the Phillies aren’t making the playoffs with that outfield, and Klentak did hedge his bets on the conference call.

“We’re still in a position where we can explore outfield improvements,” Klentak said. “We will continue to look for areas to improve our club and will explore every way to do that. If it turns out it’s in the outfield, great. If a situation doesn’t present itself that we like, then we’ll be comfortable going forward.”

The Phillies must act because the competition is acting. Other NL East teams are being aggressive this offseason.

The Mets traded for second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz. The Nationals signed free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin. The division-winning Braves signed free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. Philadelphia, which finished last season 80-82 and was 11-33 in its last 44 games, is in danger of falling further behind.

Phillies owner John Middleton said this to reporters at last month’s owner meetings: “We’re going into this offseason expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.”

Klentak gave the fans some hope when asked about Middleton’s comments.

“We have spent a lot of time with John this fall, and I would expect that to continue for the duration of the offseason,” the general manager said. “I think it’s really important that from top to bottom in an organization we’re aligned on the direction of the franchise. I can tell you without a doubt we are.”

Now it’s time to prove that.

Signing Harper isn’t stupid.

It’s smart.

Get it done Phillies.

And while you’re at it, get me a bonafide starting pitcher too.

Michael McGarry’s Must Win column appears Fridays in The Press.

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Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

Staff Writer

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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