If Bruce Levine stoked the hot stove with a report that “rumblings” had the Ricketts family green-lighting a lot of green for Bryce Harper, Ken Rosenthal just doused the flames with a big bucket of ice water. While the thrust of his Tuesday column was the White Sox and their will-they-or-won’t-they pursuit of a player who could command a salary roughly five times larger than any they’ve ever handed out (six years, $68 million for Jose Abreu), the Cubs did merit a brief blurb.
“The Cubs and Cardinals are among the other teams not engaged in a pursuit of Harper, according to sources,” Rosenthal wrote.
That’s contrary to not only what Levine has reported, but also what’s been shared with Cubs Insider and others recently, which is that the Cubs are indeed “in” on Harper. It’s impossible to find fault with Rosenthal’s plugged-in-ness, and The Athletic has remained firmly in the “Cubs won’t spend” camp, so this report is neither out of character nor a deviation from the norm.
At the same time, I find it very hard to believe that the Cubs would not at least be engaged in the process for the sake of keeping all avenues open. It just doesn’t make any sense for them to be completely hands-off, even if they do bear a healthy respect for the upper tier of the luxury tax.
Along with the Cubs and Cards, Rosenthal lists the Yankees and Nationals as teams that have bowed out of the Harper race. Of course, rumors persist that the Nats could somehow still bring their prodigal son back into the fold, but those seem far-fetched at this point. As for those still in the mix, Rosenthal names the Dodgers and Phillies, with other teams “almost certainly” joining the fray.
“But none – repeat, none – is in as flexible position with its payroll as the White Sox,” Rosenthal wrote.
“The White Sox clearly could afford Harper as well as a number of lesser additions, and who knows what they might accomplish in the feeble AL Central if they put such a master plan together?”
Who knows, indeed.
Given the assertion that other teams could still get involved, this doesn’t feel like something that’ll reach its conclusion this week. Although if Jerry Reinsdorf decides to say “F— it” and just uses the Bulls like a piggy bank to finance the Sox, he could lap the field and give Harper the chance to indulge in all his favorite Chicago delicacies throughout the season.