Cubs Trade talk: Five possible suitors for Kris Bryant


by - Staff Writer -
Bryant should have an interesting offseason (Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports)
Bryant should have an interesting offseason (Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports)

As the offseason rolls on for Jed Hoyer in his first few weeks as President of Baseball Operations, conversations are expected to ramp up soon.

The Cubs are expected to field trade offers on nearly all of their players, with Kris Bryant being one of the names mentioned most.

The Cubs are nearing the expected window closing with the team having just one year of control left on the core four of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Bryant. As Hoyer and the Cubs try to bridge the gap between this winning team and the next winning one, maximizing some return on and extending some of the current core is a key goal of this offseason.

The issue for Hoyer and the Cubs is that all four of these players (Bryant, Baez, Schwarber, and Rizzo) are coming off of career-worst seasons. Bryant hit just two home runs and only appeared in 34 games as his season was plagued with struggles and injuries. Baez struck out nearly 30% of the time in 2020 and barely hit over .200. Schwarber finished the season batting below .200, and Rizzo missed his career batting average by roughly .50 points.

The point is, for a team looking to maximize returns on players, their biggest trade pieces have career-low stocks and will be harder to trade now more than ever.

Optimistically, perhaps it will be easier for Hoyer and the Cubs to extend some of their core players because their stocks are low. They may come cheaper — especially since the future of baseball economically is so up in the air moment.

The bottom line is that many executives and people around baseball are expecting and reporting that the Cubs will be making some significant changes before opening day in 2021. And the name that surfaces first and foremost in almost every conversation is that of Kris Bryant.

As the offseason rolls on for Jed Hoyer in his first few weeks as President of Baseball Operations, conversations are expected to ramp up soon.

The Cubs are expected to field trade offers on nearly all of their players, with Kris Bryant being one of the names mentioned most.

The Cubs are nearing the expected window closing, with the team having just one year of control left on the core four of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Bryant. As Hoyer and the Cubs try to bridge the gap between this winning team and the next winning one, maximizing some return on and extending some of the current core is a key goal of this offseason.

The issue for Hoyer and the Cubs is that all four of these players (Bryant, Baez, Schwarber, and Rizzo) are coming off of career-worst seasons. Bryant hit just two home runs and only appeared in 34 games as his season was plagued with struggles and injuries. Baez struck out nearly 30% of the time in 2020 and barely hit over .200. Schwarber finished the season batting below .200, and Rizzo missed his career batting average by roughly .50 points.

The point is, for a team looking to maximize returns on players, their biggest trade pieces have career-low stocks and will be harder to trade now more than ever.

Optimistically, perhaps it will be easier for Hoyer and the Cubs to extend some of their core players because their stocks are low. They may come cheaper — especially since the future of baseball economically is so up in the air moment.

The bottom line is that many executives and people around baseball are expecting and reporting that the Cubs will be making some significant changes before opening day in 2021. And the name that surfaces first and foremost in almost every conversation is that of Kris Bryant.

Let's explore some potential suitors for the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP, and World Series champion. Bryant, as we know, primarily plays third but has positional versatility, runs the bases well, and is most known for his bat.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox have been one of the first teams rumored to be in on Bryant. The Red Sox have a third baseman in Rafael Devers, so it may be trading for Bryant to play the outfield or be the DH. Bryant’s dad played in Boston, so the location makes sense. For the Red Sox, buying low on a three-time all-star as the organization hopes to get back to contending with the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.

San Diego Padres: On the surface, this destination does not make a lot of sense. The Padres have their answer at third base for a long time in Manny Machado, and at shortstop in Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryant would likely project long term in the outfield in San Diego, which is the same city where he went to college at the University of San Diego. San Diego is on the verge of greatness, and Bryant’s bat in that lineup and experience can certainly help.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are coming off a World Series title and have a roster that does not have many holes. The one potential hole will be at third base if Justin Turner departs as many expect him to. We know from the Dodgers that they will spend to fill their holes like they did last year with Mookie Betts. The Dodgers are expected to be heavily involved in trade talks with the Rockies for Nolan Arenado, but if the Dodgers cannot land Arenado, expect them to pivot to Chicago to try to acquire Bryant and then potentially extend him.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves were most heavily rumored to acquire Bryant last winter and are emerging as a potential favorite again. The Braves have a dynamic lineup but have been playing platoon at third since Josh Donaldson left for the Minnesota Twins. The Braves are loaded in the farm system to offer a nice package to the Cubs for Bryant to be their first basemen as they try to win, and much like the Dodgers, they have the funds to potentially extend or re-sign Bryant after the season.

Washington Nationals: The Nationals are the team that has been most rumored to try to acquire Bryant early in this offseason. With a top-five pitching staff in the league and a phenom in Juan Soto, the Nationals are ready to win again. Since the team signed Stephen Strasburg and let Anthony Rendon walk, there is a hole at third base in Washington that Bryant could fill. For a big market team like Washington with a relatively low payroll, a trade for Bryant is not out of the cards — and Bryant could end up playing there long term.

So if the Cubs are unable to extend Kris Bryant or decide not to hang on to him until the trade deadline and try to build up his value — expect one of these five teams to trade for Bryant before the 2021 season begins.

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