Why Bryce Harper will sign with the Chicago Cubs

This is one entry in a five-part series about where Bryce Harper will land as a free agent after the 2018 season.

I was, as Chris Core is, on the Dodgers train for years when it came to Harper. A lot makes sense about L.A., from Hollywood to his roots near the West Coast in Las Vegas. But the signs have been building the last couple years that Harper may have another National League destination in mind — the north side of Chicago.

In Chicago, they love their stars, and there is nothing like playing at Wrigley when the Cubs are competitive. Having worked for the franchise during its 97-win 2008 season, I can vouch that nearly every day has the energy and vibe that most cities can only muster for Opening Day or the playoffs. And with all the upgrades the front office has made to the facilities, Wrigley no longer feels like an aging relic.

We all know about Harper’s childhood love of the Yankees, but the pressures of New York are compounded by the fact that Aaron Judge has already emerged as the team’s next great slugger, with an entire section of fans donning robes and wigs, swinging gavels in delirium each time he goes deep. Harper wouldn’t even be the biggest star on his own team.

He has that chance in Chicago, where he and Anthony Rizzo could sandwich around Bryant to make the best 3-4-5 (or 2-3-4 — we’re talking Joe Maddon here) in baseball.

The Cubs will have financial decisions to make in the next few years, but Theo Epstein and company have proven to be as adept as any executives at allocating resources in efficient ways. They focused on drafting bats while everyone else was going for pitching: As the market corrects, expect them to stay ahead of trends.

Harper grew up with Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant in Las Vegas and the two remain close, even attending a hockey game together this week in their hometown. Sure, Harper made the politically savvy play of rocking a Nate Schmidt jersey  an homage to his time spent in D.C. before heading west in the expansion draft  but he’s no dummy. Harper has said all the right things about Washington. But the evidence for his departure to Chicago is mounting.

Harper and Bryant’s wives are good friends as well, but don’t take my word for it — just look at those photos above. They’re from Jess Bryant’s Instagram Stories this past August, when the Nats played at Wrigley. Speaking of Wrigley…what’s Harper’s dog’s name again? Ah yes, that’s right. Wrigley.

The case for the…

Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | St. Louis Cardinals | Washington Nationals

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