Report: Cubs want a shot at Bryce Harper, but ownership 'unlikely' to provide approval

Report: Cubs want a shot at Bryce Harper, but ownership 'unlikely' to provide approval

Mid-January is approaching, the Cubs just announced their spring training report date (Feb. 13) and yet Bryce Harper remains without a team for 2019 or beyond.

The market for Harper will make your head spin, as any interested teams have public holdups and front office executives around the game are spending a lot more time shooting down rumors than stoking the flames. 

His former team, the Washington Nationals, were once considered to be out of the Harper Sweepstakes, but now appear to be back in the mix. Meanwhile, the Nats have continued to make the rest of their roster better, including the signing of free agent second baseman Brian Dozier Thursday.

In talking about where the Nationals' financials stand after the Dozier deal and whether they can even afford Harper, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal mentioned the other teams in the mix for the superstar and wrote:

The Cubs would love a shot at Harper, though ownership approval continues to appear unlikely, sources say. 

Now, this is essentially a non-update update. We know Theo Epstein's front office has had their eyes set on Harper for a while, they clearly appreciate his skillset and he would be an immediate fit on a team that could absolutely use an offensive upgrade.

But Epstein has been touting the Cubs' budget issues since the first week of November, pointing to how much money the Cubs already have committed to the 2019 roster. Barring a crazy turn of events, the Cubs are projected to fly by the $206 million luxury tax threshold this season.

The key word in Rosenthal's sentence is "continues" as it represents no deviation from the status quo that the Ricketts family does not want to push the payroll to astronomical proportions in 2019.

Maybe all the talk of the budget is just posturing by Epstein and Co. to keep their cards close to their chest, but if so, they're doing a damn good job of selling it. To date, the only addition the Cubs have made to their big-league roster this winter is a $5 million deal for Daniel Descalso, and only $1.5 million of that is owed in 2019. (They also picked up the $20 million option for Cole Hamels, but traded away Drew Smyly and his $7 million salary to create room for Hamels.)

The Cubs' 2019 Opening Day luxury tax payroll is projected at north of $228 million (Roster Resource); the previous record for Opening Day payroll in franchise history was $182 million set last season. 

Here's an entire breakdown of where the Cubs' financial situation stands this winter.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers


Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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