Although I’m fully stoked for the upcoming season – especially now that the Cubs have Yu Darvish and a renewed sense of hunger after shaking off that World Series hangover – there is this one, tiny part of me that can’t wait to see what next winter has in store for us.
As we’ve explored before, next winter’s free agent class is absolutely LOADED with talent, the likes of which, arguably, baseball has never seen before. There are too many names to mention, but among the position players, you’ll find guys like Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Marwin Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock, and, of course, the one and only Bryce Harper.
I saved Harper for last, as I’m sure you could’ve guessed, because he’s the one big-time free agent we most often assume the Cubs will target next year (if they target anybody at all). In fact, from the sounds of it, he might really be the only free agent the Cubs front office would be willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold to acquire (he’s just that impactful).
But despite all of his, Kris Bryant’s, and their respective wives’ teasing on social media over the past year, don’t expect Harper to talk about the Cubs or any other free agent connection anymore:
“I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019 at all. I’m focused on this year, focused on winning and playing hard” pic.twitter.com/PkQSK1fqwK
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) February 19, 2018
Given that he’s on the cusp of securing what could be the largest free agent contract in MLB history, his silence is probably about a bit more than just focusing on winning. Then again, as much as we love to assume Harper’s heart lies with the Cubs, there’s big reason for him to be really focused on 2018 and 2018 only: this may well be his final season with the team he came up with, and that club has a really strong squad … who just finished the year with a crushing defeat at the hands of the Cubs.
And remember who recorded the final out?
That Harper is looking to focus on this season and bringing a championship to the Nationals after that sort of finish should be a surprise to nobody. The dude’s a competitor, and while he probably can’t wait to sign that massive deal, I’m willing to bet he wants to get that taste out of his mouth first.