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Don Mattingly gets testy with Bryce Harper for no good reason

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Yesterday Bryce Harper was asked about the Miami Marlins offseason moves. Fair question. The Marlins are division rivals and that club’s tear-down was probably the biggest news inside the division of the offseason. Here’s what Harper said:

“I was very shocked that they were going to let go of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton, because that’s one of the best outfields in the game. So, very shocked about that. I mean, you can’t say enough about what Stanton did last year, what Ozuna did last year, and what Yelich has done the past couple years, so I thought they were a great team. I think they just had to add a couple more pitchers and they would have been pretty dang good.”

In this, Harper echoed the opinion of about ten gabillion people. Indeed, “it was unexpected that the Marlins would trade away their entire outfield, which was among the best in the game” is as close to unanimous conventional wisdom as it comes. The second part, about them contending with a couple more pitchers, is a bit more debatable, but it’s not a sentiment that a lot of people hadn’t already offered. The vast majority of that comment was “the Marlins were good and they had good players.” If anything, it was a generous comment about the 2017 Marlins and a fair question about the front office, put more politely than the way most of us have put it.

Apparently, though, he said something SUPER offensive! I have no idea what, but it caused Marlins manager Don Mattingly to say that it’s important for Harper to “take care of your own dugout.” He added this testy response:

“Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours . . . He doesn’t really know what goes on over here. He may think he does. But he doesn’t know what the discussions are. He doesn’t know our players.”

Literally, no, he doesn’t know your players Don, because you got rid of all of the ones he knew. Assuming, though, that that is not what you meant, please. Give me a friggin’ break. If there’s a criticism implied in his comments, it’s clearly about your front office, not your “dugout” or your players.

I get that you want to protect your team and that, early into a spring training for a team that is likely to be terrible, you want to reach for anything that can serve as a point of motivation, but Mattingly has been around the block a few times. He knows what Harper was saying and he knows what everyone else is saying. His outrage about all of this is phony as hell.

Cubs have considered trading Ben Zobrist

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The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports that the Cubs have considered trading super-utilityman Ben Zobrist in order to free up payroll space, which would allow the club to address other areas of the roster.

Zobrist, 37, is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2019. According to Cot’s Contracts, the Cubs project to have an Opening Day payroll of about $204.5 million, just a hair below the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. The Cubs have notably been absent from the free agent marketplace, particularly involving Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, due to luxury tax concerns.

Last season, Zobrist hit .305/.378/.440 with nine home runs, 58 RBI, and 67 runs scored in 520 plate appearances. He played all over the field, logging 100-plus innings in both outfield corners and second base while also spending a handful of games at first base. With Addison Russell serving a 40-game suspension to open the 2019 season, Javier Báez will handle shortstop and Zobrist figures to be the starting second baseman.