Regardless of how you feel about the Cubs’ possible pursuit of Bryce Harper, all Cubs fans can agree that they don’t want the guy suiting up for the Cardinals. Well, I suppose some of you out there aren’t sold on Harper’s abilities and believe the Cards spending big on him would actually hamstring the team for years to come. But if Ken Rosenthal is correct, it won’t matter.
Among the notes in his recent column for The Athletic, Rosenthal wrote that, while Harper would obviously improve the Cardinals’ offense, “their roster inflexibility remains an obstacle to any deal.” Much of that rigidity comes from Dexter Fowler‘s remaining $49.5 million, which makes him “virtually impossible” to trade after a poor year of offensive performance and a move to right field.
Marcell Ozuna is likewise in the way and could even be dumped outright if the Cards got Harper, but he’s only set to make about $13 million and represents huge value if he bounces back from offseason shoulder surgery.
And though Rosenthal didn’t mention it outright, the Cards’ recruiting approach will play a role as well. Despite Paul Goldschmidt‘s claim that he doesn’t know a player who doesn’t want to play there, St. Louis can’t come close to matching Chicago, LA, or New York as a destination. There’s charm in being a baseball-first town and having a rich franchise history, but recent results aren’t there.
Whether it’s more a matter of the Cards not pursuing Harper or him being unlikely to choose St. Louis, it does appear the Redbirds have a different set of priorities. They are in the market for a lefty reliever and could be players for both Andrew Miller and Zach Britton, the latter of whom apparently wants to be paid as a closer.
So the Cardinals and Cubs are basically taking opposite approaches here, depending on what you believe, with the Cubs potentially being more serious about Harper and less so about the relievers. Then again, Sahadev Sharma quipped that, “Harper to the Cubs is as unlikely as Harold Baines in the Hall of Fame.”
But I’ll take another swing at my long-dead horse in closing to remind you that nothing is even close to set right now.