Bryce Harper rang in the new year by celebrating with Cubs star Kris Bryant

It's now 2019, and coveted free agent outfielder Bryce Harper remains unsigned. Given that he's just 26 years of age and has MVP upside, he's probably going to wind up signing the largest contract in MLB history (i.e., more than Giancarlo Stanton's record $325 pact with the Marlins). Still to be determined, however, is which team gives him all that money.

The Dodgers are believed to be strongly in the mix after a recent trade cleared space in the L.A. outfield, and at various points this offseason the White Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals, and incumbent Nationals have been linked to the slugger. As for the Cubs, they're reported to have tight budget limits this winter, but the growing suspicion is that those limits may be more flexible than acknowledged. Thus, the Harper-to-Cubs buzz persists. 

Speaking of which, let us present the following tantalizing image from New Year's Eve... 

That would be Harper and his wife ringing in the new year with Cubs star third baseman/left fielder Kris Bryant and his wife. As you're no doubt aware, Harper and Bryant both hail from Las Vegas and have been friends since childhood. In that sense, this is nothing more than a couple of old friends hanging out on New Year's Eve. Implicit, though, is the possibility that Harper and Bryant talked about the former's free agency and that Bryant did a little recruiting on behalf of the Cubs. Maybe something like that even happened. 

Obviously, matters such as these -- involving hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly the bulk of Harper's career -- probably won't be determined by whether he's got an old buddy on the team, but presumably it can't hurt. What should you do with this information? Rush headlong into the roiling waters of assumption, obviously. 

By the way, a guy named "Bryant Harper" once played football for Penn State. The harbingers, they mount. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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