After months of speculation and anxiety, Chicago Cubs fans and the rest of the baseball world now know where Bryce Harper will play this season.
That’s it, guys. It’s all over. Any heartfelt dreams of Bryce Harper playing alongside childhood friend and Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant are officially over. Take your moment of silence and begin the grieving process.
Harper, 26, signed a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, setting the all-time record for largest free agent signing in American sports history in the process. The deal does not contain any opt-outs or deferred money and will keep the outfielder in Philadelphia through 2032.
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For well over a year now, Cubs fans have longed to see Harper come to the North Side of Chicago. But now, the only time that will happen is when the Phils come to Wrigley Field each year. Harper forms the centerpiece of a revamped team that brought in Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen this offseason and extended ace Aaron Nola.
But in Wrigleyville, the feeling of disappointment and malcontent is stronger than ever. As teams like the Phillies took leaps forward (along with the rival Cardinals, who signed Andrew Miller and Paul Goldschmidt, and Brewers, who brought in Yasmani Grandal and re-signed Mike Moustakas) Chicago seemed perfectly content to do absolutely nothing.
OK, well maybe they did more than nothing, but we’re splitting hairs at this point. Chicago lost the likes of Justin Wilson, Tommy La Stella, Jesse Chavez, Jorge De La Rosa, Luke Farrell and Anthony Bass, while adding veteran Daniel Descalso to replace La Stella and going with the likes of Brad Brach, Xavier Cedeno and Tony Barnette in the pen (as well as several other minor league signings).
Factor in the endless stream of off-field drama, including the Ricketts’ unsuccessful attempt to oust Alderman Tom Tunney, the elder patriarch of the family’s disgusting emails leaking and the decision to bring back Addison Russell and you have the single worst offseason under the current ownership group – by far.
This winter, at least in terms of baseball, was all about money for the Cubs. All about it as in Chicago apparently had none – at all. After bringing back Cole Hamels via a $20 million team option – a move they could only accomplish after unloading Drew Smyly‘s $7 million contract in a trade with Texas), the club stuck to small moves all offseason, leading to the underwhelming sentiment permeating the Windy City.
Bryce Harper seems ready to spend the rest of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. The question all Chicago Cubs fans are asking themselves is why he’ll call Citizens Bank Park home for the next 13 years instead of the Friendly Confines.