It’s cold as hell in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean the hot stove is completely turned off because we’re still hearing some free agent rumors during MLB’s lockout. The latest comes from MLB insider Robert Murray, who says we shouldn’t rule out a Kris Bryant reunion with the Cubs once the lockout ends.
The latest episode of The Baseball Insiders podcast hosted by Murray and Mark Carman, featured Cubs’ beat writer Russell Dorsey from the Chicago Sun-Times. The trio discussed the team’s offseason moves up until the lockout and potential free agent and trade targets the Cubs might focus on when the lockout ends.
Carman asked Dorsey about the possibility of either Bryant or Anthony Rizzo coming back to the Cubs this offseason, which eventually led to Murray dropping a bit of insider knowledge. While Dorsey believes the ship has sailed on Rizzo returning to Chicago he made the case that the Cubs should at the very least stay engaged with Bryant in case his market comes back to a reasonable deal in their eyes.
“The KB one, if the market comes back to you at let’s say $27, $28 million a pop, at 30-years-old, I don’t think that’s the worst deal out there for [the Cubs] and maybe that helps expedite your rebuild even more so after adding starting pitching.”
Murray then jumped in and added this bit of info on what he’s heard about the Cubs and Bryant.
“I’m glad that Carm ended up asking you about Kris Bryant because that is something I’ve been working on behind the scenes. I was told by somebody who would know Chicago, ‘I would not rule it out,’ and it’s been on my mind ever since. I’m tracking that one.”
Prior to the MLB lockout in early December rumors were flying left and right, linking the Mariners as one of the teams most interested in Bryant. Murray adds that at the GM meetings the Mariners were attempting to put a recruiting pitch together, reaching out to people who know the former Cubs the best and trying to learn more about Bryant in hopes of convincing him to sign with Seattle.
However, at this point Murray thinks Trevor Story is more likely to end up with the Mariners. Despite that, Murray believes Bryant or Story is unlikely to go to the Mariners, pointing to Kyle Seager’s sour end in Seattle and his poor relationship with Mariners’ baseball president Jerry Dipoto.
And that brings us back to Murray talking about Bryant and the Cubs.
“I do think Kris Bryant going back to Chicago is a realistic scenario and the number you threw out, $27, $28 million bucks makes a lot of sense.”
Heading into free agency the two most popular contract projections lists actually had Bryant a shade below Russell’s estimation of about $27-$28 million per year.
Fangraphs had the following contract figures for Bryant.
|Ben Clemens||8||$25.0 M||$200.0 M|
|Median Crowdsource||6||$25.0 M||$150.0 M|
|Avg Crowdsource||5.63||$24.1 M||$136.0 M|
Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Bryant was predicted to sign a six-year, $160 million contract, worth $26.7 million per year.
At this point there’s really no good argument against the Cubs spending this offseason. The main reason is simple enough to understand. Not only is next year’s free agent class underwhelming, considering that the top player available could easily sign an extension during the season, in Trea Turner, but the Cubs have tons of room to add to their payroll. There are almost no long-term contracts on the books over the next few years, so why not spend now when there are good players on the market.
Bleacher Nation’s Michael Cerami breaks down exactly why now is the time for the Cubs to spend big.
As for Bryant’s desire to return to the Cubs, we all now he loves the city of Chicago. Dorsey reiterated that fact with Carman and Murray. Also, although things may have appeared to end on bad terms between the Cubs and Bryant, Russell brings up the fact that players, including Bryant, liked the open communication between them and the front office once Jed Hoyer took over last year. So, maybe there aren’t as many bad feelings with Bryant and the Cubs as some fans may believe.
As for the contract, Bryant’s market could shoot up following the lockout, as teams who didn’t make a big move in November might be more inclined to do so after a new CBA is worked out. So, it’s not like the Cubs will have an inside track to sign Bryant. In terms of any specific contract details, we’ve heard from people in Bryant’s camp that a no-trade clause is paramount to signing the 2016 MVP to a long-term deal.
Check out Murray, Carman and Dorsey talking about the Cubs. Not only is there the conversation about Bryant, but they also discuss shortstops, Willson Contreras’ long-term status with the team and pitchers who the Cubs might pursue.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 7, 2021
So, Cubs fans, a Kris Bryant reunion? Mark me down for a yes.
Nevertheless, we’ll continue to speculate over other potential big signings after the Marcus Stroman deal.