The Rundown: Harper to Phillies Seems Like Odd Choice, Execs Will Face Tough Questions at CubsCon, 2022 Work Stoppage Very Likely
The Cubs have signed all of their arb-eligible players — so much for employing a file-and-trial strategy. I’m glad I don’t write on the weekends because I just feel dirty that Addison Russell was signed, and though I cannot speak for the team’s front office or ownership, it appears that they are fully committed to bringing the shortstop back at the risk of alienating a large number of fans. I hope they have the stones to fully explain their decision at CubsCon ’19.
Meanwhile, the Phillies appear to be the “clear-cut favorite” to sign Bryce Harper despite not formally offering a contract to the star right fielder, as Bob Nightengale reported yesterday.
Philadelphia #Phillies emerge as clear-cut favorite to land Bryce Harper after 5-hour meeting. Optimism is high. https://t.co/0j5B5Pu2Gg
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 13, 2019
This begs many questions, and mind you, it is important to take anything Nightengale says with a grain of salt. He misses occasionally (putting it mildly) and when he does miss, he really misses.
- Why would Harper sign with a team in the same division as his former team, knowing that Philadelphia, despite a number of offseason moves, is still the third best team in their division, behind the Braves and Nationals, with the Mets trending upward? In fact, they project to just 83 wins without Harper.
- If no contract was offered, how does that make the Phillies favorites? I’m sure money was discussed, but do Harper and his wife really love Philadelphia that much? I guarantee if he floats through another 1.3 WAR season after signing a record-breaking contract, the City of Brotherly Love will turn on him pretty fast.
- The Phillies would clearly be a better team by signing Manny Machado instead, so why the full-court press for Harper? Could they be trying to light a fire under Machado?
- If the Phillies do sign Harper, is Machado left with only one suitor? The White Sox would appear to be the favorites, but whispers of a mystery team were mentioned over the weekend. The Pale Hose have reportedly offered the all-star shortstop an eight-year deal. Of course, Nightengale tweeted late Sunday night that they had not increased their original seven-year offer.
- Does Harper come back to Theo Epstein to see if the Cubs can match or beat the Phillies offer, and will Tom Ricketts approve the expenditure in such a case?
For Cubs fans, Harper going to the Phillies is probably the best scenario outside of him holding a presser at Clark & Addison ahead of this weekend’s festivities, because it basically makes him a non-factor in the regular season and (likely) the playoffs. Do you remember the older versions of Wheel of Fortune where the winners would get to shop the showroom floor, ultimately purchasing things they didn’t need for exorbitant amounts of money because they were forced to spend their windfalls?
I’ll take the crystal octopi bookends for $650, Pat.
This is what happens when you spend stupid amounts of money, stupidly. Yeah, this is going to work out well for Harper and the Phillies. Side note to the Philadelphia front office if they do sign Harper: Congratulations on becoming the St. Louis Cardinals at three times the kick.
Cubs News & Notes
- Now that Russell has signed, he could theoretically be cut from the team for one-sixth of his $3.4 million base salary. He can also make up to $600,000 in incentives — the amount of money he will lose while serving his suspension — if he’s on the active roster for up to 150 days.
- Russell’s financially low-risk deal could be just a product of the team monitoring his behavior through the end of his suspension.
- Willson Contreras is baseball’s ninth-ranked catcher. Last year he led many lists.
- Bleacher Report has the Cubs ranked as the fifth-best team in baseball according to their latest power rankings.
- The Cubs will likely have the second-highest payroll in baseball this season, so to say Ricketts is cheap for not allowing Epstein to freely spend in free agency is a bit of a stretch. That being said, the team doesn’t seem as committed to improving the product on the field as they were back in November.
- The Padres have a keen interest in acquiring David Bote, but finding a match might be tough, as one would imagine they are trying to buy low on the heroic utility player.
- Despite a lack of any significant player movement, Las Vegas oddsmakers are becoming more bullish on the Cubs.
- Former Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has a message for the younger players in baseball:
All of you 1-3 yr players out there better be paying attention to what’s going on in our game. You’re next. @MLB
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) January 12, 2019
Free agency is broken, and only a players strike may fix it.
The discussion of a potential baseball work stoppage in 2022 should make Cardinals fans shiver more than any record snowstorm. Regardless, we are all going to be reading more and more work stoppage articles as the season progresses.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt believes that he is going to camp with five No. 1 starters in his rotation. Okay then, if you say so, Mike.
With the Phillies reportedly leaning toward signing Harper, the White Sox feel relatively good about their chances to sign Machado.
The Padres continue to talk to the Indians about a potential trade for Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, but San Diego is reluctant to move any premium prospects.
By signing Jed Lowrie, the Mets are either cornering the market on infielders, or they feel confident MLB is not going to outlaw the shift, so they will certainly be able to load up the right side of the infield.
Kyler Murray is trying to rework his contract with the Athletics. The first round draft pick is using his Heisman Trophy and the NFL draft to try to get Oakland to meet his request for more money. Representatives from MLB are involved in the discussions.
Any deal struck between Murray and the A’s could have future implications on baseball’s rules regarding draft picks.
The Red Sox payroll is nearing $240 million dollars, and the team is still keeping tabs on former closer Craig Kimbrel, though it seems unlikely they’d re-sign him.
Upcoming free-agent classes are super stacked. In time they’ll expose the 2018-2019 class as the undeserving joke that it is.
If you play fantasy baseball, here are a couple sleepers to keep your eye on for the upcoming season, including former Cub Dylan Cease.
Spring Training Countdown
29 days until pitchers and catchers report.
“I’ve kind of looked at my whole career as a spring training invite.” – Jamie Moyer
Some cool stuff about Greta Van Fleet & Led Zeppelin.
Is it necessary to sound original in rock & roll?
Take a listen as @LinBrehmer provides a historical perspective on the topic. https://t.co/2ozEvT8gq1
— WXRT Chicago (@93XRT) January 14, 2019
Monday Walk Up Song
Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight with a twist on the Pips. Thought you all could use a little Monday morning smile.