None of the big position player dominoes have fallen since the lockout ended and MLB free agency resumed this week – but the rumor mill is churning out heat left and right – including a report from Jon Heyman on former Cubs superstar and National League MVP Kris Bryant.
According to Heyman, Harper wants to see his longtime friend join him in Philadelphia – and there’s a definite fit there. The Phillies are in a position to take advantage of Bryant’s defensive versatility – and could add a big bat to a lineup that already features Harper and JT Realmuto.
But as he also notes that Philly is hardly the only team interested in Bryant. The Mariners (long viewed as a likely landing spot for the four-time All-Star), Rockies, Padres, Mets and others are all in the mix. Seattle makes a ton of sense, as do the Rockies given their lack of major contracts on the books. I have a harder time imagining the Padres adding someone of Bryant’s caliber without first unloading a contract (remember, they’ve been connected to the Cubs repeatedly in a potential Eric Hosmer salary dump).
Cubs: Will Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper finally join forces on a team?
Still, there has to be some appeal to Bryant when it comes to potentially teaming up with Harper – something the two discussed a few years back when the latter made his foray into free agency. Then, it was Bryant pitching Harper on coming to the Cubs. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition and he wound up signing his massive 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies.
Harper is coming off his second MVP season, in which he put up a stupid 179 OPS+ only for Philadelphia to miss the postseason yet again – extending their decade-long streak dating back to 2011. Despite several major moves during that span, they’ve been unable to get over the hump – and with the Mets spending money like it’s going out of style and the Braves looking to defend their crown, they’ve got their work cut out for them in 2022.
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If you’re still holding out hope Bryant comes back to the Cubs, I would stop now. His market appears to be just as robust as expected and I can’t imagine a wholly viable scenario where Chicago hands him the best offer he receives given the lack of extension during his time here.