Report: Cubs Checked on Harper, Still Longshots at Best

Before you continue, please accept this large grain of salt as my free gift just for clicking. After countless twists and turns, the Bryce Harper saga appears to be nearing an end. Fancred’s Jon Heyman has been along for the whole ride, frequently balancing reports of a frontrunner with teases of mystery teams or interest from other known commodities.

Those reports, which have increasingly featured the Phillies, have led many to surmise that Heyman is acting as a mouthpiece for Scott Boras as the agent tries to squeeze out more money for his client. It’s hard for me to throw stones as I stand in the front lawn of my glass house, so I’ll just say it’s not at all inconceivable to think someone on Team Harper could be leaking info with intent.

And that isn’t meant to disparage Heyman, just to establish some context for what follows. Much was made of Phillies owner John Middleton flying to Las Vegas Saturday, after which Buster Olney wrote that a deal could be consummated by Tuesday. That felt like Boras throwing up a neon “For Sale” sign in an effort to attract final offers.

Then we learned that the Dodgers had traveled to meet with Harper Sunday, but that they were still interested only in a short term deal. Like, very short. Perhaps even shorter than the Giants, who don’t want to come anywhere near 10 years or $300 million. We also learned last week that the Nationals’ initial offer to Harper included nearly $100 million in deferments and that the two sides hadn’t spoken in a couple months.

That leaves the Phillies as the only team willing to go big for Harper, which doesn’t necessarily afford Boras the leverage he so desires. As such, it sure would be nice to have the looming specter of competition from elsewhere. Heyman discussed the proceedings with Jon Marks and Ike Reese of 94 WIP out of Philadelphia on Monday afternoon and referenced several previous surprise signings in the past as proof that this race is far from decided.

“The surprise team, the mystery team, wins a lot,” Heyman said after mentioning Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, and Manny Machado. “I do think the Phillies are the team that makes the most sense [for Harper]. They got the stupid money, I think he’d like to play in Philly, but let’s just go back and look at the history of this.

“[Robinson] Cano went to Seattle, surprise. [Albert] Pujols to the Angels, surprise. A-Rod to Texas, surprise. [Zack] Greinke Diamondbacks, surprise. Machado Padres, surprise. A lot of times it comes out of the woodwork, teams like to keep it secret and wanna make their own announcement, whatever the reason is, these things often go off track.”

Heyman then explained that he prefers to keep all teams alive until they’re definitively out of the running, hence the constant references to mystery teams.

“I mean, even though the Yankees have told me 3,000 times they’re not getting Bryce Harper, this morning I heard a rumor and I called again. Three thousand one, so they’re not in.”

As for those teams that might be in, Heyman said he’d been told by a source that they had to at least acknowledge a willingness to discuss the contract terms Boras had set forth. That seems to run contrary to what has been reported all along about the Giants and Dodgers, but we’ve also heard that Boras could be using that interest to spur bigger offers.

“I will tell you that at some point in this, the Cubs have checked in. The Braves have checked in. I would say that teams have checked in that we haven’t heard much of, or anything of, but whether they’re really a true mystery team that has a real shot, I wouldn’t vouch for it.

“I think the Cubs are a longshot at this point. I think the Braves are a longshot at this point.”

Move along then, nothing to see here. We’ve known as much about the Cubs since late October, though different rumors have cropped up at random intervals to fan the flames of hope. Still, it’d be a wild plot twist to have Tom Ricketts go from “We have no more money” to “Hey, Theo, here’s $35 million a year over the next 10 years for you to spend as you see fit.”

You can listen to the full interview with Heyman on the player below.

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