🎶How many roads must a man walk down … 🎶
The rapid twists and turns of the Winter Meetings, man. It gets you every year.
Whether it’s true or not that the Ricketts Family has signed off on the possibility of an extraordinary expenditure of money to sign someone like Bryce Harper, it wouldn’t much matter if the Cubs elected not to seriously pursue Harper in any case. But that wouldn’t actually happen, right? Of course they’re going to try, right?
Enter Ken Rosenthal to poop on your shoes: “The Cubs and Cardinals are among the other teams not engaged in a pursuit of Harper, according to sources.”
What do we make of a sourced statement like that? On the one hand – the optimistic, generous hand that you probably want most! – it might not be that revelatory to learn that the Cubs are not currently engaged in a pursuit of Harper. Their offseason is still shaking out, and it’s clear that there are still fundamental questions about the financial situation, both for baseball operations and for the organization as a whole (what if some monster news drops on the TV deal tomorrow that changes everything? it is not impossible).
So, maybe then, the Cubs are just kinda kicking back, knowing this is going to be a very long process, and are not engaged in an active pursuit. They’ll talk later. What, you think Scott Boras is going to finalize a Bryce Harper deal without making sure he’s heard finally from the Cubs?
Also, the framing of Rosenthal’s piece is kind of about saying lots and lots of teams are out, and really it’s the White Sox in the best position to sign Harper. While that may be true, you do have to keep in mind that there’s a narrative element to saying the Cubs are not pursuing him. It works within the broader context of what Rosenthal is actually focusing on in his thoughtful piece about the White Sox.
That do anything for you?
The “other hand” version of this is that we’re all just rebelling against what the Cubs have otherwise made very clear: they aren’t going to spend $300+ million on Harper. We can debate whether they have the money, we can debate whether it’s moral not to spend it, and we can debate whether it’s penny wise pound foolish to limit yourself from pursuing the best of the best at age 26 in the middle of your competitive window. But maybe the story being sold here is just … real. And maybe that’s all we’ll have in the end: debates about what the Cubs chose not to do.
We’ll continue to keep tabs on Harper, because obviously. By the time his market comes to a head, it really is possible that the Cubs will be in the mix, even if they are sitting back and disengaged right now. I still think it would be nuts to totally rule them out, even if they’re more of an extreme dark horse at this point.