The Cubs aren’t getting Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Fine, I’ve accepted it. I won’t back off on disagreeing with the decision not to spend on one of two stud 26-year-old players, but for whatever reason something changed during 2018, that made Theo Epstein recalculate what he could and couldn’t do during the offseason.

It’s been a slow offseason for the Cubs, as they’ve only added one new player to their MLB roster, Daniel Descalso. They also picked up Cole Hamels’ option for 2019, and I’ll remind you again that owner Tom Ricketts pointed to those two moves as the Cubs actually spending this offseason.

Anyway, despite the couple reports speculating the Cubs may be a mystery team, waiting for Harper’s or Machado’s market to play out and then jump into the mix, it’s pretty clear that won’t be happening.

Kris Bryant, who’s a close friend of Harper, was also asked about the Cubs maybe getting him, and at first he said Harper isn’t coming to the Cubs, but that also contradicted his previous statement that he doesn’t talk about free agency with Harper in the first place.

In later interviews on Friday, Bryant changed his answer, saying he didn’t now about Harper and the Cubs.

For Cubs fans, not being serious contenders for either star free agent is extremely disappointing, but there have also been reports indicating the team has to move money simply to add more bullpen help.

The MLB offseason has definitely changed. Remember back to 2015, when Jason Heyward signed his huge deal with the Cubs? That was in December. Now the biggest free agents aren’t signing until February and in some cases until March, as we saw last year.

But that’s just the state of MLB and may clue fans into why the Cubs still haven’t made any moves to improve the bullpen.

The big names in the reliever market have signed, yet adding to the bullpen remains the Cubs top priority.

Via 670 The Score.

“But I think the real focus for us in the bullpen. We have a lot of talent there, but I don’t think right now the bullpen is complete. I know we’re working extremely hard to try to add to it, whether it’s through trade or the right free-agent signing or the right small acquisition that might pay a huge dividend. We don’t want to have the year we’re looking for from our position player group and our rotation and have our bullpen let us down. That’s something you have to be concerned about.”

(Theo Epstein)

As far as Epstein’s comments at the end of the 2018 season about the offense being broke, he tried to clarify what he meant and also offered an explanation to how it can be fixed without any major free agent signings.

You can count Kris Bryant in on the new hitting coach.

And as far as the reason for not going after Harper and Machado, it seems like Ricketts didn’t want to give Theo more cash to spend because of last year’s shortcomings.

Again, I’m not sure if passing up on one of two 26-year-old players, who are elite at their position is smart when your team is in the middle of a championship window just because a previous signing didn’t work out, but that’s Tom’s decision.

Finally, I guess this concept is somewhat complicated for some fans to comprehend, but yes the Cubs are still a very good team. Yes, they had huge injuries to key players in 2018, and still won 95 games. And yes, Kris Bryant is back healthy and Yu Darvish shouldn’t only start eight games again, but just because you have a good team doesn’t mean you stop there and not at least try to make it better.

Tom Ricketts isn’t cheap. The Cubs have had a top payroll for a few years now, but it’s not like fans are asking ownership to sign off on the front office going after a 32-year-old free agent who might only be good for two years. We’re talking about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both 26-years-old. Right in their prime. These are great players who would instantly separate the Cubs from the rest of the division.

To not even make a run at either is stupid.

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