The much-anticipated free agency of Bryce Harper has arrived. Will it play out as we expect, with the former NL MVP playing for the Chicago Cubs?
With the end of the 2018 MLB postseason comes the offseason, which means the hot stove is about to heat up. Buckle up, Chicago Cubs fans.
Much of the attention this offseason will be focused on two marquee free agents: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Many Cubs fans have long been convinced that Harper could end up a Cub before the 2019 season begins. Harper is a longtime friend of Kris Bryant, as the two both grew up in Las Vegas. Harper has often hinted he could be interested in coming to Chicago.
Still, it has never been certain Harper would end up in Chicago, and the Philadelphia Phillies have recently become a likely landing spot for the 26-year old outfielder. Bovada Sports released its odds for where Harper will land, and the Phillies currently lead the field with the best odds to land Harper at even.
The Cubs trail the Phillies at +300, with the incumbent Washington Nationals not far behind at +400.
Bryce to Philly?
The Phillies displayed their potential for much of 2018, emerging from a few rebuilding years into a potential contender for the National League East. They struggled down the stretch, ultimately falling out of playoff contention after a dreadful September.
Still, Philadelphia could be an attractive destination for a guy like Harper. It’s a large market team in a winnable division, and the Phillies would have plenty of money to offer Harper a hefty contract that would satisfy his agent, Scott Boras.
Philadelphia is also the current favorite to land Manny Machado. If the Phillies were to sign both Harper and Machado, they could be loaded going into 2019, making Philly an even more attractive destination for free agents. It might give Nationals fans nightmares, but it’s not out of the question.
What would this mean for Cubs fans?
So, what do these Bovada odds mean for Cubs fans? Is Harper sure to go somewhere other than Chicago? If so, who do the Cubs go after instead?
Harper to the Phillies is by no means a done deal. Sure, Philly is an attractive option. But if anyone knows how to lure a marquee free agent, it’s Theo Epstein. If he wants Harper, it’s almost certain Epstein has something up his sleeve to convince him to make the move to the Midwest.
Harper would undoubtedly have an immediate impact on Chicago’s offense, which struggled down the stretch in 2018. Still, even if the Cubs can’t lure him to Wrigley, all isn’t lost. The Cubs are already fairly set in the outfield, with Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber all currently set to return, barring any trades.
Plus, there are other options still on the market in the outfield and elsewhere. Marwin Gonzalez, A.J. Pollock and Andrew McCutchen are just a few outfielders who will be free agents this offseason. D.J. LeMahieu remains a potential infield addition, should the Cubs choose to move Javier Baez to shortstop permanently.
Harper to the Phillies is a very realistic possibility. But the bottom line is, even if Harper does end up in Philly, all is not lost for the Cubs. Other possible additions remain, and the Cubs are already set up for success in 2019, while the Phillies still have some work to do to show they belong with the game’s best teams.