With every day the Cubs stand pat or deal from the bargain-basement bin of the free-agent market, their 2019 team gets worse on paper.
The Cardinals add slugger Paul Goldschmidt and reliever Andrew Miller to a team that won 88 games last season.
The Cubs add infielder Daniel Descalso.
The low-budget Reds add playoff-veteran starting pitchers Tanner Roark and Alex Wood — along with former All-Star hitters Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig — to a team that already fielded a competitive lineup of hitters. And president Dick Williams said: ‘‘We’re not done yet.’’
The Cubs add left-hander Conor Lillis-White and rehabbing right-hander Kendall Graveman.
Who? Well, Lillis-White is a minor-leaguer who was the player to be named in the Tommy La Stella trade to the Angels, and Graveman is a former eighth-round draft pick who spent the last four seasons with the Athletics and — never mind.
The point is that the National League Central continues to get better as the Cubs continue to sit out the winter, strapped by a payroll budget cinched tight by unproductive contracts and big arbitration raises coming. They’re assured of having a franchise-record payroll well above $200 million if they do nothing more than keep their current roster intact.
And with the trade Friday that sent Wood, Kemp and Puig to the Reds, the Dodgers have maneuvered enough room in their outfield and budget to make a run at Bryce Harper, which almost certainly would make them favorites to make a third consecutive trip to the World Series.