After Theo Epstein’s end of the season press conference back in October, Cubs fans expected big things to happen in the offseason. The broken offense has to be fixed, the team needs a greater sense of urgency and the clubhouse needs some edge. Bryce Harper, right?
To say the least, it’s been a frustrating two months since Epstein’s media session, walking some of those comments back, hinting that the team isn’t going to go after any of the big free agent hitters, while hoping the young players who struggled in 2018 all bounce back next year.
Manny Machado is reportedly meeting with at least six teams next week. The Cubs have never even been mentioned as a longshot to sign the all-star shortstop this offseason, but hey that must mean they’re going all out for Harper, right?
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) December 11, 2018
That pretty much fits every single report out there from most national and Chicago reporters. The Cubs simply don’t have the financial flexibility this offseason to pursuit Harper, who’s expected to get the biggest contract in MLB history.
There have been some rumors here and there about the Cubs actually being more “in” on Harper than what the public perception is, but really the only positive report lately was from Bruce Levine, who mentioned some “rumblings” about Cubs ownership signing off on spending big for a player like Harper.
Yet, there haven’t really been any rumblings since.
Before the Winter Meetings started Jeff Passan from Yahoo! Sports only mentioned the Cubs briefly, as a team that would “check in” with Harper’s camp. The Winter Meetings have come and gone and hey if you’re a Cubs fan then you can still be optimistic about Harper to the Cubs.
Mark Feinsand from MLB.com wrote a summary of the Winter Meetings and where things stand going forward in free agency. And hey, look at that, the Cubs are at least brought up when talking about signing Harper.
Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, met with clubs at their suite at the Aria Resort and Casino this week, getting a feel for the superstar outfielder’s market. The Phillies and White Sox appear to have serious interest, though teams including the Cubs and Dodgers are also monitoring the situation. The Yankees insist they’re not in on Harper, taking a big-market club out of the picture.
Spin zone time!
Only four teams mentioned for Harper: White Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs. Scott Boras made it clear that Harper wants to go to a team that’s ready to compete for a championship. So, that’s why including the Dodgers and Cubs, who have represented the NL in the World Series the past three seasons, still gives Cubs fans some glimmer of hope.
Obviously there seems to be the real hurdle of the Cubs needing to move money in order to pursue Harper and the same could be said of the Dodgers. But hey, maybe it’s a good sign that Harper hasn’t signed yet. Maybe he really is giving the Cubs time to work things out because he prefers to play on the North Side, as some rumors have suggested.
C’mon, would you really be surprised if Theo pulled it off?
As more time passes I’d say that bodes well for the Cubs because although it seems like a difficult task to move some of the bad money, it only takes one team to try and convince.
I mean, c’mon, Scott Boras didn’t take the bait to be critical of the Cubs’ reported financial constraints when he did so exactly one year ago and isn’t shy about doing it with any team?
And yes, I know, maybe he’s just being vague to keep internal perception that the Cubs are in on Harper only to drive up the price.
Just don’t give Theo too much time. Other teams might end up regretting it.