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Bryce Harper reportedly has eye on Cubs, but would he fit their budget?

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
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We understand if you’ve already had your fill of Bryce Harper rumors. Though he’s still a year and a half away from reaching free agency, the speculation is already running rampant about where he wants to go and where he’ll ultimately end up.

We’re not ones to bite on every rumor, but we couldn’t help but pay attention to the suggestion of Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons during a radio appearance on 670 The Score in Chicago.

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During the interview, Gammons strongly connected Harper to the Cubs, noting that his sources believe signing with the Cubs would actually be Harper’s preference.

“I have people tell me that Bryce Harper really would prefer to play for the Cubs, but somehow, I don’t think that it’s going to be affordable to have Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant on the same team,” Gammons said during the appearance.

That’s a different twist to the Harper rumor mill, which has mostly pointed to a union with the New York Yankees. Other teams have been tossed in the mix too, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies, but the Cubs have been treated like background players or even afterthoughts in this race.

That could in fact prove true once Harper’s decision nears. But even Gammons pointed out that what Harper might prefer is one thing, and what the reality will be is likely something else entirely.

Here’s how he wrapped the Harper to Chicago talk.

“I’d love to see it because I respect them both so much personally and professionally, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”

Will the Cubs be in the running for Bryce Harper? (AP)
Will the Cubs be in the running for Bryce Harper? (AP)

Yahoo Sports’ Jefff Passan recently broke down how every team figures to be positioned ahead of the free agent frenzy that’s coming in the winter of 2018-19. He puts the Cubs among the teams that have money and will be willing to spend, but believes they would be limited to “one big name and another mid-tier.”

When it comes to free agents in 2019, though, they aren’t in the right place to go after more than one big name and another mid-tier. While only $71.8M is guaranteed for 2019 (Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward), the arbitration raises of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber, among others, will suck up tens of millions of dollars and limit what the Cubs are capable of doing that season.

That puts the Cubs position into pretty clear perspective.

Though they haven’t been shy about spending, the money Harper is sure to command
— how does $400M or $500M sound? — simply wouldn’t fit in their budget if they intend to keep a competitive core in place. President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer didn’t rebuild the Cubs just to put their resources into one or two players, even if those players are on an elite level.

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It’s a juicy rumor to be sure, but there’s little reason for Cubs fans to get their hopes up or other hopeful fanbases to be discouraged. At least for now.

With that said, it’s important to remember that 18 months is a pretty long time in the baseball world. Circumstances change quickly, as do minds. And that’s why we’re all so intrigued by every little possibility. It only takes one unlikely rumor coming true to potentially change the course of perhaps the most pivotal offseason in MLB history.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!