Most of the talk since the end of the 2018 season has centered around the Cubs’ inability to spend, though there have been rays of hope have broken through intermittently. Bruce Levine wrote of “rumblings” that the Ricketts family might approve a big expenditure on the right free agent. Some sources said the Cubs were more “in” on Bryce Harper than they were letting on and that they’d asked Scott Boras to come back to them before accepting another offer.
But as Ken Rosenthal wrote Thursday afternoon ($) for The Athletic, the hopes of a monster announcement at Cubs Convention may indeed be little more than wishful thinking. It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sentence in the middle of a column otherwise devoted to the Nationals’ desire to retain their megastar, but it was another shovel of dirt on the Cubs’ chances.
The Cubs would love a shot at Harper, though ownership approval continues to appear unlikely, sources say.
For such a short sentence, that one’s really got it all. The team’s interest; ownership’s deep pockets and short arms; sources. It’s the entire winter summed up in 17 words and packaged in deeper analysis of how and why other teams are doing more.
Rosenthal seems to indicate that the Nats are both willing and able to do what it takes to bring Harper back into the fold, though he closes with a question just the same. And really, every team in baseball is technically able to sign Harper or Manny Machado or whomever they please given the record revenues being experienced. Just how long the massive windfalls will continue is anyone’s guess, though baseball isn’t doing much to help itself with either players or fans in that regard.
And who knows, maybe the Nats won’t be the team with the biggest offer in the end. Rosenthal notes the Phillies’ continued interest, but also concedes that their trip to Vegas to meet with Harper this Saturday may be as much about driving his price up as anything. Then again, a rumor surfaced earlier Thursday that Harper would sign with Philly and have his final MLB: The Show 19 cover shot released at the same time.
Bryce Harper will be signing with the Phillies on Saturday according to my source. Perimeters of deal in place and agreed to. The Phillies organization just wants to talk to Bryce about playing in Philadelphia. Deal announcement to coexist with Harper’s video game cover showcase
— KevinMatuszak (@KevinMatuszak) January 10, 2019
Color me highly skeptical of this one, and not just because of the typo (which was acknowledged in subsequent tweets). We’ve been hearing for a while now that neither Harper nor the Phillies are favorites of one another, then you add in the implied notion that the team would have to convince him to play there. If a deal had been agreed to, it probably wouldn’t be contingent upon Harper being wooed on the back end.
I mean, I suppose the Phillies could have made it known that they’re cool with a $420 million swellopt, to which Boras tells them to get their asses to Vegas and sell his client on why cheese steaks are better than deep dish. Just seems a little far-fetched, which is right in line with the Cubs’ chances at this point.
But hey, maybe Harper signing somewhere gets the market moving and has the Cubs signing someone. Lord knows the efforts of their NL Central counterparts haven’t spurred them yet.