I had to rewind and listen to this like five times to make sure I heard it correctly. I did. And it’s nuts. But dang if you wouldn’t want to dream on it being true.
On his 670 The Score show with Matt Spiegel just now, Bruce Levine dropped an absolute bombshell: he’s heard from inside the Cubs’ organization, they are considering trading for Nolan Arenado AND KEEPING KRIS BRYANT to be the everyday center fielder.
*blink* *blink* *jaw* *floor*
Now, let’s be VERY clear up front that Levine conceded this is something of a “pie in the sky” hope scenario, and everyone acknowledges that making the finances work would be very tricky, since the Cubs are already right there at the luxury tax limit. Arenado’s AAV is such that you’d have to move something like Jason Heyward AND a pitcher like Jose Quintana or Tyler Chatwood in the trade to make it conceivable to keep Bryant and stay under the luxury tax. It’s obviously very debatable whether the Rockies would even have interest in a deal like that (and how much they’d want in prospect currency – keep in mind, guys on $230+ million contracts with full no-trade rights and an opt-out after two years don’t command as much in trade as you might think).
All that said, this did sound like something that has actually been discussed, with a lot of thinking about how Bryant would fare as an everyday center fielder. Maybe you make it work to accommodate Arenado, and maybe Bryant is naturally gifted enough to be passable out there. But I’ll be honest, it would make me nervous to have an outfield of Schwarber-Bryant-Someone-Not-Heyward. There’s a lot of defensive risk there in the outfield
… but I mean, to have both of those bats added to the middle of your lineup? Plus it’s a substantial defensive upgrade at third base. My lord. I’d roll the dice on the defensive impact, because it would be fun as hell to watch the bats!
We’ll see if this goes anywhere beyond Levine’s radio mention, though it’s worth keeping in mind that this is now the THIRD reporter connecting the Cubs to an Arenado trade. Fair to say they really are considering how they could make it work, whether it means trading Bryant thereafter or not.
(As an aside: if the Cubs landed Arenado in trade, then if they later DID decide to shop Bryant, they would have removed one of the competing trade pieces from the market. Just saying.)
UPDATE: The Score’s Julie DiCaro double-checked with Bruce Levine on this, and apparently he didn’t quite mean what he said?
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) January 11, 2020
All I can say is that the words used on the radio were not unclear, but something must’ve gotten lost in the format. In any case, this whole thing was sufficiently shocking that it’s NOT shocking to see it seemingly shot down so quickly.
To be sure, though, the Cubs are still being connected to Nolan Arenado trade rumors – not just by Levine, but by multiple other national reporters. So that part doesn’t quite get put to bed, but instead, it’s the idea of the Cubs having BOTH these two guys.