Of course Theo Epstein wants to sign Bryce Harper. Of course the Cubs have the money to sign Bryce Harper. Of course Scott Boras wants to get as much money as possible from whatever team signs Bryce Harper.
Is Cubs ownership actually worried about paying a luxury tax penalty if they sign Harper? Are the Cubs even trying to sign Harper?
Of course they are.
Via the Chicago Sun-Times.
That explains the message the Cubs delivered during their lengthy meeting with Scott Boras, Harper’s agent — as long as three hours, by some accounts — as he and Harper made the rounds with interested teams.
Sources say Epstein urged them to wait before accepting an offer from another team until the Cubs had a chance to try to move some payroll off the books and check again with ownership.
So, the Cubs reportedly met with Boras at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and made it clear to check back with them before Harper made any final decision to sign. Then, at the point Theo Epstein would call Tom Ricketts and say, “hey, Bryce wants to sign with us, give me the fucking green light to make it easier to make you more money in the future.”
And you know what Tom Ricketts would say? “Yes, sir!”
Because why wouldn’t Ricketts OK the Cubs signing a superstar in the middle of the Cubs championship window? This after letting the front office go after Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist after 2015, and once again giving the green light to go ahead and sign Yu Darvish last offseason. You’re telling me he wouldn’t be fine going after Bryce fucking Harper now?
So, what about that luxury tax, are the Cubs actually worried about that?
Revenues certainly have increased enough since the 2016 World Series title to cover a sizable-enough leap in payroll to compete for Harper or any number of other significant free agents the Cubs have passed on so far.
And indications are the restraints are less about luxury-tax penalties, which the Cubs reset by staying under the thresholds the last two seasons, than whatever bean-counting calculus ownership and the business-operations department are using to set budgets.
Sure, the Cubs would like to move some money off their current payroll, but that doesn’t necessarily matter for a franchise that swims in cash. Especially when it comes to possibly signing one of the biggest free agents of this era.
Why have the Cubs passed on some of those other big free agents this offseason?
I mean, c’mon, the Cubs are definitely signing Bryce Harper.
Remember how the previous narrative in the offseason was that there was just no way the Cubs could sign Bryce Harper? Well, the tide is turning.
.@PJ_Mooney & I take a look back on the Cubs 2018. A tough end to the season and slow start to the winter has left a bitter taste in many mouths, but there's still reason to be hopeful in 2019. And the door isn't quite shut on the biggest fish of them all. https://t.co/pnYA8jrd2j
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) December 21, 2018
From no shot, to can’t quite shut the door on the possibility, to the Cubs are going to have the final say on where Harper signs.
Theo always gets his guy. Of course Bryce Harper is his guy.