Cardinals’ offseason target: Bryce Harper
Things are so slow on the Major League Baseball free agent market that St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs fans alike have to try to read Instagram posts like tea leaves to try and give themselves something to be excited about.
Over the weekend, the big stir came when the top free agent prize, Bryce Harper late of the Washington Nationals, was photographed with rapper Nelly, who just happens to be a huge Redbirds fan and a self-appointed ambassador for the city of St. Louis. But, before Cardinals fans run out the door and buy that hideous new alternate road jersey with Harper’s number 34 on it, it must be noted that also in the photo was Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant.
St. Louis fans instantly sprang into action, certain that Nelly was going to give Harper the St. Louis pitch while Cubs followers figured that the photo can only be a sign that Harper plans to relocate to the North Side of the Windy City. (Never mind that the Wee Bears already have a $200 million right fielder in former Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward.)
If Nelly tried to influence Harper to hook up with the Cardinals, he hasn’t said anything about it. I suppose we can all hope that’s what happened. But I sincerely doubt that the word of some dude who sings some catchy tunes is going to influence the former most valuable player. The only guy who is going to influence Harper is his agent. Even his buddy Bryant isn’t going to convince Harper to take less money to sign with his team, no matter how good of pals they are. And let’s not forget that Bryant turned down an extension with the Cubs last season. Wouldn’t he want to get his contract taken care of before he convinces someone else to sign with his team — and then the Cubs say “sorry, we can’t afford to sign you for what you’re asking because we signed Harper.”
2018 offseason off to a slow start
It would sure be nice if something happened sooner or later so we could quit this silly speculation. I can’t remember a time when things were this slow. Even last year when it took longer than usual for the offseason shuffle to develop, at least there were plenty of rumors to go around. This year, there’s nothing. I haven’t heard one semi-specific report on what Bryant is thinking. The only thing I’ve heard about the second-most popular free agent slugger, Manny Machado, was that the New York Yankees expressed some concern about his behavior in the playoffs. Mind you, the Steinbrenner clan didn’t say they were out on Machado, only that they had concerns. All that one can fairly glean from that statement is that the Yankees are interested in driving down the infielder’s asking price.
You have to root down to the talk that the Cincinnati Reds were “interested” in a couple of the top free agent hurlers on the market to find any juicy gossip. But their front office shot down those reports as fast as they surfaced in a write up in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Yawn. Josh Donaldson signed with no warning, taking one of the better players on the market off the board with as little fanfare as possible.
The winter meetings mercifully start in a week. Hopefully, we’ll then finally get a chance to see some action happen. It seems like so long since the end of the 2018 campaign. But we can’t really start to dream about 2019 when we don’t know the names of the players who will make up the roster.
With the St. Louis Blues playing unexpectedly terrible hockey, there isn’t much to distract fans from the long, cold winter. Hopefully, things will heat up soon.