While the Cubs' payroll restrictions could prevent them from pursuing Bryce Harper, Phil Rogers of Forbes writes that there are two ways for the club to make it work.
The first is to eat enough of Jason Heyward's salary to make it worthwhile for a team to trade for the 29-year-old outfielder. Heyward is still a productive player — he was worth 2.0 wins above replacement in 2018, per FanGraphs — but he's owed $106 million over the next five seasons. If the Cubs contribute $56 million in a trade, another team would have to pay Heyward only $10 million per year over the life of his contract.
The second option would involve the Cubs paying the luxury tax in 2019 before trimming the payroll to avoid the steep penalties levied against teams that exceed the threshold in consecutive years.
As Rogers notes, Chicago could free up nearly $60 million by letting Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing leave as free agents after the 2019 season.