I was literally saying on Thursday how there haven’t really been many rumors about anything since free agency officially started after the World Series, but the hot stove is warming up. Specifically, you’d think there would be a lot of talk about several Cubs players being targets for certain teams.
Yes, we’ve seen the general reports that signs seem to indicate that the Cubs will be somewhat blowing things up, with Kris Bryant and Javier Báez as the two most frequently brought up trade options. But now, we have the first couple teams being linked to the Cubs for possible trades.
Nationals interested in Bryant
So, it was only a matter of time before we got the “x-team is interested in Kris Bryant,” reports. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted on Friday night that the Washington Nationals are one of the early clubs looking into a deal for the 2016 National League MVP.
Sources: #Nats are considering a trade for #Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, among numerous hitters they’re currently monitoring on the market. Free agent DJ LeMahieu is another option, as I reported earlier today on @MLBNetwork. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 20, 2020
Unlike last offseason, when we were hearing similar rumors about various teams being interested in trading for Bryant, this time around a deal feels more likely to happen. However, is now the right time for the Cubs to consider trading Bryant?
Bryant’s trade value
Here’s what Eric Longenhagen wrote about Bryant’s value.
The Cubs cut employees’ salaries in May and laid off more than 100 people last month, so this seems like a situation where payroll will be reduced pretty significantly. Front office folks I’ve spoken to about Kris Bryant don’t think he’ll be non-tendered but they do think the combination of his poor 2020 performance and 2021 salary (slated to be north of $20 million) have tanked his trade value.
In 2020, Bryant got off to a horrible start and just when it looked like his season was going to turn around he suffered a hand injury after attempting to make a diving catch in Cleveland. He was only able to play in 36 games, and playing through the injury Bryant put up career worst numbers, slashing .206/.293/.351, with four home runs in 131 at-bats.
I’ll say it again, it absolutely sucks that the Cubs are in a position that they’re thinking about blowing up the core, but I’ve come to terms on the shortcomings of the roster and the need for change. I don’t agree with trading Bryant, but if the right deal is on the table? Sure, do it.
But who really thinks the right deal is going to be available following his awful season? It makes zero sense to sell low on the player who could ultimately bring you back the biggest package in a trade. I mean, Bryant is only one year removed from a .903 OPS season in 2019, when he pretty much put up his career numbers (which are good!) despite dealing with a knee injury during the summer.
So yeah, how about not panicking and making a move just to make a move right now and wait for Bryant to build his value back up if you’re seriously considering trading him before next year’s deadline.
Dodgers interested too?
Also on Friday, Morosi dropped this tidbit about the Dodgers potentially being in on Bryant this offseason. This was in context to Los Angeles reportedly considering trading for Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
To make the obvious point on the Dodgers’ motivation, Justin Turner is a free agent, and the team needs an everyday third baseman. If the Dodgers re-sign Turner or trade for Kris Bryant, of course, the Arenado conversation is probably moot. But it’s overly simplistic to characterize this as a choice between Arenado and Turner or Bryant. From the Dodgers’ perspective, the better comparison is between Arenado and Corey Seager.
So, Morosi casually drops in Bryant’s name in connection to the Dodgers, making it seem as though that’s a real option for Los Angeles.
And honestly, get ready for a bunch of reports the next month about teams being interested in Bryant. Every single contending team is probably trying to figure out how to pry Bryant away from the Cubs right now.
So, get ready for an exciting(?) offseason, Cubs fans.