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The Chicago Cubs were for years considered the favorites to sign Bryce Harper once he reached free agency. There were myriad reasons to connect the dots: Harper and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant are longtime friends; Harper and his wife have a dog named Wrigley.

 

The Cubs are the third-most valuable franchise in baseball -- of course they'd chase after one of the most desired free agents in recent memory.

 

Recently, the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Cubs were having troubles fitting a free-agent reliever like Adam Warren into their budget. Those limitations would make signing a prized free agent like Harper tough to navigate, if not downright impossible.

 

On Tuesday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon added more water to the fire by answering a fan's question about Harper at the team's annual fan convention. 

 

Maddon is expected to trot out an outfield that includes some combination of Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ, Albert Almora Jr., and Ben Zobrist. 

 

The Cubs' only big addition of the winter has been utilityman Daniel Descalso. While Chicago's payroll is expected to check in around $200 million, a new franchise record, it's hard to believe the Cubs are strapped for cash.

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