Cubs

Bryce Harper is flirting with Chicago

Bryce Harper is flirting with Chicago

Bryce Harper's flirtation with Chicago and his bff Kris Bryant is growing.

Case in point:

TUESDAY: The superstar slugger was spotted at a Blackhawks game Tuesday night sitting center stage in his hometown of Las Vegas, notably NOT wearing any Golden Knights gear.

MONDAY: Bryce Harper took a photo with fans while wearing a Bulls hat.

ALSO MONDAY: Harper included a snap of his dog on his Instagram story. His dog's name? Wrigley.

Tracking back further

Oct. 11: Harper posts a photo of the Wrigley marquee after Game 4 of the NLDS, stating, "Until next time! Love this place":

August 5: The wives of Harper and Bryant got together to stir the pot themselves, even using the hashtag #HarperToTheCubs, while saying, "Fans want it...& we are more than good with this idea..."

June 27: Harper posted an Instagram photo with Kris Bryant and their wives after a Cubs-Nationals game using the hashtag #Back2BackOneDay

June 4: Peter Gammons really got the ball rolling on the Harper-to-Chicago train when he hopped on the Mully and Hanley Show and said, "I have people tell me that Bryce Harper really would prefer to play for the Cubs."

And then there was that one time in May 2015 when Harper was sporting a Blackhawks T-shirt.

Now the other side:

Let's play Party Pooper and put on our Debbie Downer hats here for a second.

On July 9, Harper told the Washington Post he loves trolling people, like that Instagram hashtag with Bryant:

"I do that to the media because they stir it more than I do. That's why i do the things I do at times, because it's funny to me. It's like, 'Alright, people want to talk about this and talk about that. Why not just throw this out there and make them think about it?'"

Well, he's made us think about it, that's for sure.

Harper and his agent — Scott Boras — have a lot to gain by getting the Cubs involved and with the natural tie-in there with hometown buddy Bryant already, it's a perfect fit to help drive up the price tag.

If Harper and his camp want $400 million, the best way to get that is to get the Cubs involved, even if the chances are incredibly low that he signs there. There are probably several people at Boras Corp. right now whose main focus is helping craft a public image for Harper.

He is the kind of guy who knows any hat he wears or T-shirt he rocks is scrutinized, so he and his people undoubtedly spend a ton of time thinking about that and analyzing those decisions before he even steps foot in public.

From the Cubs' perspective, it will be hard to figure the money out to make Harper-to-Chicago a reality.

Jason Heyward has a player opt-out in his contract after the 2018 season, but right now, it seems there is no way he takes it. He's due $106 million from the start of 2019, including $20 million that season alone and obviously his best position is also right field.

The Cubs also have 2019 money committed to Jon Lester ($22.5 million), Ben Zobrist ($12 million) and Anthony Rizzo ($11 million) plus options on Jose Quintana ($10.5 million) and Pedro Strop ($6.25 million) that are likely to be exercised as of right now. That's $82.25 million committed to just six players (assuming the options are picked up), plus Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell in their second years of arbitration with Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Mike Montgomery in their first years of arbitration.

The money would be really, really difficult to manage if Harper gets $30-$40 million a season, but hey, that's not our problem to figure out.

Bryce Harper: The Cubs' right fielder in 2019...or baseball's biggest troll/flirt?

Content producer Jon Graff contributed to this post.

Cubs Talk Podcast: How can the Cubs fix their closing problem?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: How can the Cubs fix their closing problem?

The Cubs are 10-2 but they still have a glaring issue that needs to be addressed in order to make a significant run to the playoffs: the closer.

David Kaplan is joined by NBCS Chicago Cubs insider Gordon Wittenmyer as they discuss ways and options the Cubs can address their closing situation. Later on, they discuss if Theo Epstein took a shot at Joe Maddon and how the Cubs are leading the charge in baseball for safety protocols.

(1:20) - Should José Quintana be the closer?

(7:05) - Are the Cubs as good as their record?

(13:00) - Debate on the three-batter rule for pitching changes

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(17:00) - Cubs are among one of the safest teams in the MLB

(22:00) - Did Theo Epstein take a shot at Joe Maddon?

Listen here or below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Why Cubs’ Alec Mills became first pitcher to hit since MLB added universal DH

Why Cubs’ Alec Mills became first pitcher to hit since MLB added universal DH

Thursday’s Cubs-Royals game was one-sided, with Kansas City taking an early lead and never looking back in a 13-2 victory. Despite the loss, the Cubs made some history in the ninth inning.

Cubs pitcher Alec Mills became the first hurler to have a plate appearance since Major League Baseball implemented a universal DH. 

“I told him to look intimidating and I think he did,” Cubs manager David Ross said with a smile after the game.

The Cubs forfeited the DH in their lineup in the seventh inning, when they moved Victor Caratini (Thursday’s starting DH) to first base and Ian Happ from first to right field among several innings worth of moves that emptied their bench.

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With the DH gone, reliever Dan Winkler entered the lineup in the seventh in place of Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward, a move Ross said postgame was to get Heyward off his feet. When that spot came up in the ninth, Ross sent Mills to the plate. He struck out looking, as Ross asked him not to swing.

“Alec was fine with going up there. I asked him not to swing,” Ross said. “Every part of my being knows that’s probably the wrong thing to do, is take the competitiveness out of a player. He’s been pitching so well for us; I don’t want anything dumb to happen in that type of game.”

Reds two-way player Michael Lorenzen is the only pitcher credited with entering a game on offense this season. He pinch ran on July 26.

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