The offseason is so slow we’ve now resorted to posts based around Joe Maddon’s four-word answers to fan’s questions at charity events. Back in Chicago a few days ahead of Cubs Convention to help raise money for one of his many philanthropic ventures, the skipper took part in a brief Q&A moderated by Cubs TV color man Jim Deshaies.
Most of the questions were the typical fluff you’d expect from such an event: Whether Maddon’s driving his RV to spring training (of course) or his theme for the 2019 season (TBD). There was, however, a little chin music: What are the chances of (signing) Bryce Harper?
“Not going to happen,” Maddon answered as Deshaies hustled the conversation in a different direction.
— Ryan Baker (@RyanBakerMedia) January 16, 2019
The simplest and most correct way to view this is that it’s to be taken at face value: The Cubs don’t have money in the baseball budget to sign the slugger. Hell, they don’t have money to sign Bryan Harper, a 29-year-old southpaw who has only pitched about 26 total innings above Double-A. He also happens to be the older brother of the most coveted free agent on the market, so maybe the Phillies should get him.
But since I’ve already climbed out on this limb, let’s go ahead and see if we can parse Maddon’s words a little. It could be that he was simply telling the crowd a discussion on the matter was not going to happen. Not only does he not have much control over player acquisitions, he’s certainly not going to discuss the front office’s machinations to whatever extent he’s even aware of them.
And I’m sure more than a few of you will want to believe Maddon is simply furthering the gamesmanship in which the Cubs have engaged all winter. They’re not just slow-playing their hand, they’re blatantly and repeatedly lying through their teeth at every turn in an effort to conceal their true motives. So Maddon is following that directive in order to make the eventual splash that much bigger.
Feel free to believe that if you like, but there’s a massive difference between not telling everyone what you’re really doing and just flat-out spreading disinformation.
There’s probably a little of all those things involved when you reduce it all down, though I’d say the first is like three cups and the latter is a pinch. As with any of the other rumors and reports, though, you can feel free to tweak the recipe as you see fit. Or, you know, to not make anything of it at all.