The Chicago Cubs have long been rumored to be interested in bringing Bryce Harper into the fold as the team looks for another World Series Championship.
Following a recent picture that surfaced of Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant attending a Nelly concert together, rumors have began to grow on if the former youth-league teammates want to join forces once again in the major leagues. Although Nelly would prefer to bring the duo to the St. Louis Cardinals, it is far more likely that they could end up in Wrigleyville together.
The Chicago Cubs currently already have $165.50 million committed for the upcoming season after they chose to exercise a $20.00 million team option on Cole Hamels. Following MLB Trade Rumors estimated arbitration costs, the Cubs payroll will likely expand to $205.00 million.
Even though the luxury tax threshold for next season has been set at $206.00 million, the Cubs would likely be okay going over it to sign Harper. This is due to the amount of contracts that will expire following the conclusion of next season.
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With Hamels, Ben Zobrist ($12.50 million), Pedro Strop ($6.25 million), Steve Cishek ($6.50 million), Brandon Kintzler ($5.00 million), and Brian Duensing ($3.50 million) all set to become free agents after next season, the Cubs may still be able to reset their luxury tax penalties ahead of the 2020 season.
Harper is widely expected to receive a contract with $30.00 million per year in salary over the next 10-14 seasons. Nonetheless, it would be worth it to add his career slash-line of .279/.393/.496 to the Cubs lineup.
Adding Harper with Javier Baez (.267/.309/.470), Kris Bryant (.285/.385/.515), Kyle Schwarber (.228/.339/.470), and Anthony Rizzo (.270/.369/.484) would give the Cubs an incredibly potent lineup for at least the next three seasons.
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With Joe Maddon still at the helm alongside a strong starting rotation and bullpen, the Cubs could be considered the favorites in the National League if they are able to bring in Harper ahead of next season. Although they are a solid team already without Harper, they could definitely use another offensive threat after scoring only two runs total between game 163 and the Wild Card game.