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Joe Maddon on Bryce Harper to the Cubs: ‘Not happening’

We all need to move on.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

We are about four weeks to the time when major-league players will be reporting to spring-training camps in Arizona and Florida.

One thing we can be pretty certain about is that top free agent Bryce Harper won’t be reporting to the Cubs’ spring facility in Mesa, Arizona. So says Cubs manager Joe Maddon:

In fact, when asked about Harper during an appearance for the Union League Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday night, Maddon said: “Not happening.”

“We feel as though all the ingredients are in the bowl already,” Maddon said before conducting a fireside chat for the club. “It’s already there. To just go out and purchase guys because some kids had a tough year is probably not good form.

“I’m all about development, as we’ve talked about. I’m with the guys, Theo and Jed, regarding trying to extrapolate more with the group we already have because there’s a lot more left. We’ve seen it. We’ve got to get it more out there consistently.

“I know that’s where the guys are coming from in the office. And just to go out and purchase players to purchase players, you might not be getting better than you already have.”

This is exactly what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been saying all offseason, that the solutions to the Cubs’ issues come from within. At the risk of sounding like the proverbial broken record, the Cubs did win 95 games in 2018 even with two free-agent busts in the rotation, multiple significant injuries, guys having down years and the offense pretty much vanishing in the second half. It’s wise to remember, I think, that if the Cubs had won just one more game before October 1, they’d have hosted a division series beginning October 4 and had home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs — and then who knows what might have happened?

The Tribune article linked above also contains some remarks Maddon made about Addison Russell:

Maddon acknowledged that Russell, who hasn’t spoken publicly since late September, still faces “a lot of obstacles and tough questions.”

“But it’s just a matter of being honest and transparent about it,” Maddon said. “We understand what happened. Moving it forward, he understands and he’s taking culpability, responsibility for it. So now it’s about ... having this young man realize the fullness of his potential as a human being first. And then as a shortstop second. And that’s where we’re at. He’s got my support doing that.”

I’ve made my position on Russell quite clear here. I think they should have moved on and made a mistake tendering him a contract. However, the Cubs clearly made their choice by giving him a contract for 2019, and as Cubs fans we all have to live with that choice. Russell’s actions and comments will obviously be closely monitored not only by the team, but by the media and fans. He is scheduled to make a public statement on the day the team holds its first full-squad workout (February 18), and what he says will go a long way toward his public perception going forward.

In the meantime, though, what you see from the Cubs roster-wise right now is likely what you’re going to get as we head into the season. It’s been one of the quietest offseasons in Theo Epstein’s tenure as Cubs president of baseball operations.

And Bryce Harper will be playing for a team not named “Cubs” this season.


Bryce Harper will sign with the...

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    White Sox
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    ... team not mentioned above (leave in comments)
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