Bryce Harper

Davey Martinez makes his pitch to keep Bryce Harper in D.C. — and away from the Cubs

Davey Martinez makes his pitch to keep Bryce Harper in D.C. — and away from the Cubs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Davey Martinez finally has his dream job of running a Major League Baseball team.

And he wasted no time in petitioning for Bryce Harper to remain in Washington D.C. next year...and not joining forces with hometown buddy Kris Bryant.

"Can I lobby for him right now?" Martinez asked reporters at the MLB Winter Meetings Monday morning. 

Harper becomes a free agent at the end of the 2018 season and Cubs fans have been dreaming about a possible Las Vegas reunion between the 2015 NL MVP and the 2016 NL MVP in 2019 and beyond. Martinez, on the other hand, hopes he gets to work with Harper for "a lot of years" with the Nationals.

Martinez also stayed true to his roots and asked Maddon for advice on managing. Martinez served as Maddon's bench coach for the last three years with the Cubs and the two were paired together in the same capacity from 2008-14 with the Rays in Tampa Bay.

As he met with the media as the new skipper of the Nationals, Martinez relayed Maddon's words of advice:

"He told me, 'Be yourself. You know what you're doing; you've been around a while. Have fun with it,'" Martinez said.

Maddon's two pillars of counsel included:

1. Be yourself
2. Don't be afraid to try things

That advice is right on par with Maddon's style, as he and Martinez have worked to create a clubhouse with the Cubs where players feel free and comfortable to be who they are as players and as people. 

And of course Maddon has rarely backed down from a crazy, half-baked idea, famously putting pitchers in the outfield, hitting pitchers eighth, bringing in magicians to the clubhouse and any number of off-the-wall concepts.

Martinez — who was drafted by the Cubs as a player in the third round in 1983 and spent seven years in Chicago as a player (four with the Cubs, three with the White Sox) — has been interviewing for managerial jobs for the better part of the last decade, but now finally gets his chance with the team the Cubs knocked out of the playoffs just two months ago.

"I really believe this feels right," Martinez said. "It feels lucky to be part of a winning organization. This is the moment and I'm going to embrace it. I can't wait to get to spring training and get started."

Giancarlo Stanton reportedly heading to Yankees: What's it mean for the Cubs and the Bryce Harper sweepstakes in 2019?

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USA TODAY

Giancarlo Stanton reportedly heading to Yankees: What's it mean for the Cubs and the Bryce Harper sweepstakes in 2019?

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly heading to the Big Apple.

According to multiple Saturday morning reports, the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins have agreed on a deal and Stanton is expected to approve it, sending the National League MVP to the Bronx.

The implications are many for baseball, with Stanton — who belted 59 home runs last season, the most since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa hit 73 and 64 dingers, respectively, in 2001 — teaming with American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge — who smacked a rookie record 52 homers in 2017 — to create the most formidable middle of the order in the game. After coming close to reaching the World Series in 2017, losing to the eventual-champion Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series, the Yankees could be the presumed favorite heading into 2018.

But what's all this mean for the Cubs? The most obvious effect is that Stanton is out of the NL, making things easier for the North Siders, though the Marlins weren't much competition to begin with, finishing eight games below .500 last season. And Stanton rejected a trade to the Cubs' division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, on Friday, meaning they dodged a bullet not having Stanton slugging in the NL Central.

But the Cubs were one of four teams on Stanton's reported short list of clubs he'd approve a trade to. This could be viewed as the Cubs missing out on the offseason's two biggest targets in as many days, with Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani picking the Los Angeles Angels over the Cubs and five other finalists Friday. But just because Stanton said he'd like to play on the North Side doesn't mean the Cubs were ever actually showing any interest or talking with the Marlins about a deal.

Instead, the biggest effect of this trade from a Cubs standpoint figures to come a year from now, when Bryce Harper becomes one of the biggest and most sought-after free agents in baseball history. The Washington Nationals star has been on Cubs fans' wish list for a few years now as his impending free agency draws closer. There has been plenty of speculation that the Yankees would be a leading candidate for Harper's services, with their historically deep pockets and rapid rebuild that has them near the top of the baseball heap once again. But does the Stanton trade knock them out of the running? Stanton's contract is gargantuan, a massive 13-year deal when he signed it that still has as many as 10 years and $259 million remaining (he can opt out after the 2020 season). Plus, Stanton and Judge are both corner outfielders, the same position that Harper plays. With those corner outfield spots and a whole ton of money spoken for between Stanton and Judge, the Yankees might no longer make sense as a destination for Harper, arguably baseball's biggest star.

The Cubs, meanwhile, now don't have to promise long-term corner-outfield spots to either Stanton or Ohtani. The money will of course be tricky, with the team's young stars like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras all due big-time raises in the next few seasons. But the Cubs could move to the forefront of the Harper conversation — even if they already were in Chicago, where Harper's every move has seemingly been construed as a sign he wants to join fellow Las Vegas native Bryant in Cubbie Blue.

As for the present, the Cubs still have Schwarber and Jason Heyward patrolling the corner-outfield spots at Wrigley Field, with a host of interchangeable parts for Joe Maddon to play with. And the middle of the order, dominated by Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Contreras, is still a mighty strong one.

But there's a new souvenir company to compete with in New York.

Bryce Harper is hanging with Kris Bryant at a Vegas Golden Knights game, so feel free to speculate wildly

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@GOLDENKNIGHTS

Bryce Harper is hanging with Kris Bryant at a Vegas Golden Knights game, so feel free to speculate wildly

Another social-media post featuring Bryce Harper, another round of frenzied internet speculation that he'll one day be a Chicago Cub.

Harper, scheduled for free agency after the upcoming 2018 season, is batting 1.000 when it comes to getting fans to read into each and every move he makes, hoping that everything he does has some sort of hidden clue about where he wants to sign his next gargantuan contract.

And of course Cubs fans are hoping it all means he's coming to the North Side.

His most recent activity? Hanging with Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant at Tuesday night's Vegas Golden Knights game.

https://twitter.com/GoldenKnights/status/935708126786940929

Of course, this isn't that unusual. After all, both All Stars are Las Vegas natives. It makes total sense they'd be supporting the new team in town.

But it also makes total sense, in the age of Twitter speculation, that Cubs fans would see that picture and start wishing that Bryant will spend the evening pitching Harper on why he should come to Chicago.

We're not going to get any sort of resolution to all this until next offseason. So until then, speculate away.