This entire offseason has been dominated by stories about Tom Ricketts choosing to dramatically hack the baseball operations budget with a hacksaw. So this particular bit of news hit way too close to home.
Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant sat down with Barstool Sports’ Red Line Radio this week – and in addition to admitting that constantly being in trade rumors takes a toll on a human being – informed us all that before his foray into free agency, Bryce Harper was seriously interested in playing for the Cubs.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
"“He came to Chicago [the season before he hit free agency], he played us and we went to dinner one night …. And we were just talking and I was like ‘Man, it would be super cool if you came to Chicago.’ And he’s like ‘Honestly, it’s top of my list.’"
So that’s fun.
I had actually talked myself into believing the Cubs would pull the trigger on Harper and pair him with Bryant as their next core – and was pretty onboard with the plan. Instead, Harper inked a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago is very near tearing the roster down to the studs and rebuilding.
Will Kris Bryant leave Cubs, join Bryce Harper?
Bryant, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $19.5 million for 2021, is now about 10 months from free agency. Could he join Harper in Philadelphia? It sure seems like the relationship between the Cubs and their former MVP is on shaky ground – and playing with a lifelong friend could be the way he finds joy in the game again.
"“And I thought we really had a chance to get him. You know, I kind of forget the situation, exactly who we signed or whatever, but he really loves Chicago. He loves coming to the city, eating there … who doesn’t like going to Chicago. I’m kind of bummed out we missed out on that opportunity.”"
Since joining the Phillies, Harper is yet to replicate the insane numbers form his 2015 MVP campaign where he was near-twice as valuable as the average player, but he’s still been a well-above average talent, evidenced by his .903 OPS and 134 OPS+. He walked more than he struck out for the first time in his career last season, leading the league with 49 walks to go with his 13 home runs and 33 RBI.
Once again, we’re left wondering what might have been. I know how lucky we were to get that long-awaited championship, but in the aftermath, it’s feeling like squandered opportunity after squandered opportunity. This is just the latest one we’re learning of.