According to one MLB insider, the latest Cubs rumors indicate the North Siders are among the favorites to land superstar Bryce Harper in free agency.
The possibility of Bryce Harper joining the Chicago Cubs might be as alive and well as ever. That is if the latest Cubs rumors are to be believed. (Which we all hope is the case).
During a segment on MLB Now Wednesday, MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman was asked if the chances of the Cubs taking a serious look at Harper are increasing. Heyman’s answer should be music to the ears of Cubs fans.
"“It’s fair to say they’re probably increasing, at least publicly, because going in, I thought they were a real long shot,” Heyman said. “[They] re-signed [Cole] Hamels and seemed to want to be under that luxury tax. That kind of solidified the idea that they wouldn’t be in on Harper.”"
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Playoff rivals in similar positions
Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a blockbuster trade that sent outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to the Cincinnati Reds. The move was seen by many as the Dodgers clearing space, both on their depth chart and financially, for Harper.
The Cubs have yet to make such a move this offseason, but Heyman said he thinks the Cubs and Dodgers are in similar positions – that is, they represent the toast of the league. Chicago and Los Angeles represent the National League’s two most recent pennant winners, although the latter is yet to capture their elusive World Series title.
From long shot to real possibility?
So, which of the two teams is more likely to seriously look at adding Harper? For Heyman, it’s the Cubs.
"“I thought it might be the Dodgers, but at this point, I think it might be more likely it would be the Cubs that would look at Harper,” he said. “The Dodgers are still looking at other pieces.”"
In terms of other pieces, Heyman mentioned reports of the Dodgers’ interest in Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber. Adding both these names would take an already loaded Los Angeles team and take them to a whole new level.
I mean, pairing Kluber with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler atop the rotation? Goodness.
The Dodgers have been adamant about their desire to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold. In fact, the Dodgers plan to keep their payroll under the luxury tax for at least the next four years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Keep your eyes peeled
Harper’s desire for a mega contract have been well-documented. If the Dodgers truly intend to keep their payroll under the luxury tax, adding a lucrative salary in Harper to the payroll would not make sense.
With that being said, the Dodgers should not totally be eliminated from the Harper derby. If the Cubs make a similar move to Los Angeles to clear payroll, though, Harper signing with Chicago would become very realistic.
"“I think the Cubs are still looking to do that,” Heyman said. “If we see that they’ve traded Heyward, or made some room some other way, then we’re really going to look at it seriously and say ‘Wow, they might be in for Harper.’"
After a winter of disappointment and little in terms of excitable Cubs rumors, let’s hope we start seeing more reports like this in the weeks and months to come.