Cubs owner Tom Ricketts went on a mini PR tour Thursday morning and killed any hope fans had of the team making a run at Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. He didn’t have to directly mention either player to let fans know the Cubs aren’t making a huge splash, as he was too busy talking about taxes and how the team did spend money on Cole Hamels and Daniel Descalso. OK, Tom.

Joe Maddon once again said he doesn’t think the Cubs are getting Harper, while Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have back tracked from the initial thought that big changes were coming, especially after Epstein’s comments in October.

So yeah, the Cubs aren’t even trying to sign one of the two superstar free agents who happen to be only 26-years-old.

Yet, despite the Cubs publicly making it pretty clear they’re not in on Harper or Machado, or at this point anymore, there are still a few MLB reporters who believe they are one of the mystery teams for both.

I shared this last night, but in case you missed, here’s what Phillies insider Jim Salisbury said about the Cubs and specifically about a Harper pursuit.

On Thursday’s edition of the  “At The Yard Podcast”, Philadelphia Insider Jim Salisbury stated that he still feels the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers are the three teams that are all still in the Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado sweepstakes.

He called all three franchises “very interested bystanders in one or both of these guys.”

According to Salisbury, the Cubs have made it very clear to Harper’s representatives that after he receives all of his final offers from teams, he should make sure to “check back with us [the Cubs].”

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported back in December that the Cubs did in fact meet with Harper’s agent Scott Boras.

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, maybe Salisbury is simply repeating the same info from Wittenmyer, or maybe Boras is trying to keep other teams in the mix to drive up Harper’s price by giving off the perception that there are more clubs are involved in the pursuit.

Right now the Phillies, White Sox and Nationals seem to be the three teams most interested in Harper.

Salisbury isn’t the only one who still believes the Cubs are in the mix for one of the two star free agents, as ESPN’s Buster Olney also listed them as one of the teams who may still sign Harper or Machado.

MLB.com summarized his latest article.

In an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) on Thursday, Buster Olney listed some of the so-called “mystery teams” that are drawing speculation from industry insiders and broke down each club’s chances of signing one of this offseason’s superstar free agents.

Olney is hearing the Astros, Giants and Braves being mentioned as potential suitors for Harper; the Yankees and Padres as possible contenders for Machado; and the Rangers, Twins and Cubs as three teams that could sign either player.

Basically every damn team is interested. OK, thanks for the insight Buster.

I do think there are teams who right now may not appear to be in on either player, who will come out and be in the mix at the end, but after listening to Tom Ricketts throw Theo under the bus, I just don’t think the Cubs will be one of those teams.

But hey, as long as Harper and Machado are unsigned I guess anything is possible.

If you’re tired of the free agency rumors, then come and join us on the Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast. I specifically trashed Tom Ricketts and we also made fun of a New York report that claimed Kris Bryant forced Theo to fire former Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis.

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