If you’ve been following the back-and-forth reports of the Cubs’ involvement with Bryce Harper, you’re well aware of this: No one knows a damn thing. Seriously, we’re hearing something different each day, much of it in direct conflict with what we’ve previously heard. Some of that can be chalked up to editorial direction or sensationalism, but Scott Boras has no doubt been fanning the enigmatic flames.
And perhaps because he’s been doing so with whispers rather than his trademark bombastic billows, people are left to draw too many of their own conclusions.
Gordon Wittenmyer reported back in late December that the Cubs had met with Boras during the Winter Meetings for as long as three hours, during which time they asked him to circle back with them before accepting an offer elsewhere. Then Jim Bowden blustered recently about how the Cubs “did not make a play on Bryce Harper at all,” which actually contradicts what he had said previously. So that’s cool.
Thursday brought additional information from Jim Salisbury of NBCS Philly, who said on the “At the Yard” podcast that he felt the Cubs are still in on at least Harper. The Dodgers and Yankees are in the mix for Harper and/or Manny Machado as well, he said, calling all three teams “very interested bystanders in one or both of these guys.” And in keeping with an earlier rumor that there could be a Machado mystery in the NL Central, Salisbury said the Cardinals could be lurking at the periphery.
“I’ve even heard that in Harper’s case, that the Cubs have made it very clear to Harper’s representatives that, ‘You know, when you think you’re ready to sign and have all your offers there, make sure you check back with us,’ Salisbury said.
Now, to be clear, this was not being presented as sourced information and it sounded more like a simple conversation. Salisbury and his pod partner, Corey Seidman, seemed to be speaking more in terms of conjecture and the part about the Cubs asking Boras to circle back could well have come from Wittenmyer’s report.
All of which brings us right back around to the idea that no one knows a damn thing. Well, except for the Cubs, who have been adamant that there’s no money for big additions. Joe Maddon said Tuesday at a charity event that Harper was “not going to happen,” then repeated that sentiment following his Thanksmas dinner Thursday evening.
At his Thanksmas event, here’s Cubs manager Joe Maddon on fans wanting Bryce Harper, and what’s actually a realistic goal/approach for the team as it looks to improve offensively… pic.twitter.com/SiRnyCEAjO
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) January 17, 2019
At this point in the slogging offseason, I’ve resorted to sharing this information for little more than posterity. I can guarantee you a majority of the Facebook replies to this post will be some iteration of “Who cares?” And I get it, I really do. I’d actually be mad at myself if I was using the content of Salisbury’s pod discussion as any basis for serious discussion.
Rather, I use this to illustrate the fluid murkiness of these proceedings. And I suppose I may as well apologize in advance, since this situation doesn’t figure to clear up anytime soon.