Like most teams, the Chicago Cubs are still very interested in signing free agent Bryce Harper. Along with rumored frontrunners Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs are still in a waiting game of sorts as Harper has face-to-face meetings with suitors and mulls over what figures to be a multitude of attractive offers.
The Cubs suddenly find themselves as major spenders with little to show for their investments after last season. Chicago sank $186 million of free agent dollars into Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Tyler Chatwood ahead of the 2018 season. While the team made the postseason, it fell apart down the stretch and was eliminated in the Wild Card round.
Darvish and Chatwood were dreadful, and the former made only eight starts in 2018. Morrow was excellent when healthy, but that wasn’t very often as he appeared in just 35 games. With significant contracts on the books for Jason Heyward and Jon Lester as well, the Cubs might be looking to dump a big salary if things get really serious in their pursuit of Harper.
Another player who could be dumped from the roster–if they can find takers for him–is Addison Russell.
The talented, but slumped and troubled shortstop could be on the trading block. He’s set to miss a month of the 2019 season as he serves a 40-game suspension as the result of domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife. This isn’t the first time similar allegations have been made against Russell. That’s not a good look for the Cubs as an organization and Russell’s play on the field has been anything but stellar.
While he remains an above-average defensive shortstop, his offense has been subpar. In 2018, in 130 games, Russell hit just .250 with five home runs, 38 RBI and an OPS of just .657. The latter was the lowest of all of the Cubs’ regular starters. Because of Russell’s struggles and impending absence, the team has already signed veteran infielder Daniel Descalso, but they could be fishing for bigger fish.
There’s always Manny Machado, who has always wanted to return to shortstop. One of his best friends in the majors is Cubs’ second basemen Javier Baez, so there is that dream for North Siders. However, a more practical solution might be free agent Troy Tulowitzki.
The 34-year-old former All-Star is far removed from his MVP candidate form of a decade ago, but he recently worked out for the Cubs and 10 other teams to prove he’s healthy and capable of contributing after missing the entire 2018 season due to bone spurs in both heels.
Most recently, Tulowitzki hit just .249 with seven home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, but that too was a compromised version of the veteran shortstop. Perhaps the Cubs could bring him in hoping to capture a year of magic from a veteran on the downside of his career.
In any case, we should see the dominoes begin to fall once the baseball world knows where Harper and Machado will play next season.