Earlier today, Jon Heyman dropped a series of notes/rumors for various teams throughout the league, the most immediately relevant of which may have been some additional Manny Machado Madness between the Cubs and Orioles (read all about that right here).
But buried underneath that rumory bit was something Cubs fans had been hoping to *actually* hear from someone in the game for a while now: “One rival exec speculated that the Cubs are probably the favorite for Bryce Harper in a year, noting that he and Kris Bryant are great friends, and also that ‘their wives are great friends.'”
To be sure, the content of the message itself – Harper to the Cubs could make some sense given the Harpers’ well-documented friendship with the Bryants – is not news to anyone around here, but the source of the message – a rival executive – is notable and lends some credence to the theory. And when you consider Harper’s apparent affinity for Wrigley (which happens to be his dog’s name), the Cubs’ needs, available funds, and competitive window, well, yeah, it makes plenty of sense.
In other words, if the Cubs are willing (we know they’ll be able) to give Harper the type of contract he’ll likely command on the open market, then the non-financial reasons to join the Cubs may put them over the top.
There is one tiny wrinkle, however, and it involves that other rumor Heyman mentions: Manny Machado.
If the Cubs were to add Manny Machado this winter, they’d probably have some interest in keeping him around long-term, too, but that would throw a wrench in their efforts to get Harper (the Cubs, despite their deep pockets, will almost certainly not be paying both players long term, plus figuring out how to hang onto Bryant et al). The fun thing, though, is that defensive positioning doesn’t really make much of a difference. If the Cubs go after Harper long term, they can just plop him in one of the outfield corners and move everyone else around as necessary (you make room for Harper first, and figure everything else out later).
If the Cubs go after Machado, however, he could either stick at shortstop, or, depending who the Cubs ship over for him, play third base and move Bryant into the outfield the same way Harper would have (again Bryant and Machado would be the priority, and everyone else’s positioning needs could be figured out thereafter).
So, in the end, it’s really more of a discussion about if the extra value from Harper’s bat in right outweighs the extra value from Machado’s glove at short or third. We’re obviously getting SO FAR ahead of ourselves, but it’s hard to hold back when you’re talking about adding another 26-year-old perennial MVP candidate to a team with Kris Bryant.
For now, your takeaway is that, as we suspected, Bryant’s relationship with Harper may help bring his big bat to Chicago.