The final Friday before Spring Training, and here is the latest on Kris Bryant, who remains a Chicago Cub …
- Jesse Rogers writes at length about the Kris Bryant trade situation at ESPN. It’s interesting, because I also caught his radio hit last night on ESPN1000, and although he was absolutely not saying he thinks or hears a deal is going to happen, it definitely had the tone of keeping that possibility very much on the table. The article is a bit softer, discussing possible trade partners and other outcomes, but you still come away with the same sense: even at this late hour, a trade is not yet off the table. Everyone on the outside observing would say it’s very unlikely when you consider the circumstances here in February, but it’s still lingering out there.
- In a mailbag, Padres beat reporter Dennis Lin addresses the Bryant question following the Padres missing out on Betts. Could it happen? Sure. But is it likely? Not really, for two reasons: (1) the Cubs, according to Lin, would want far more for Bryant than the Red Sox wanted for Betts (he mentions tip-top pitching prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño as the types the Cubs would ask for, which … that’s pretty extreme); and (2) the Padres would need the Cubs to take back some of Wil Myers’ contract to make a deal work. On that second part, it could still work financially for the Cubs, but when we wrote about Myers before, it mostly only made sense if he still had value to the Cubs as their primary right-handed-hitting 4th outfielder. They have since signed Steven Souza in a very similar capacity. (Of course, if you could somehow get Gore included in a trade, then you have to be more willing to stretch when it comes to taking back a bad contract! (The Padres are absolutely not going to trade Gore.))
- If you wanted to get really nuts with the Padres, you could talk about a Bryant-Willson Contreras combination deal (the Padres had been connected to both at various times, and haven’t made moves that would preclude them wanting both players). In that kind of move, the Cubs would get an absolutely monster return of top prospects, while taking back some of Myers’ deal and catcher Austin Hedges to improve the prospect return. Padres GM AJ Preller has put together insane trades before, including on the eve of the season, so I guess you couldn’t rule it totally out. But it’s just so hard to actually get both sides on board with a deal of that enormity.
- Jon Heyman was on The Score this morning, agreeing that the Cubs would expect more for Bryant than the Red Sox got for Betts, but he would be surprised if Bryant is dealt now, in part because he could see the Cubs winning the division. I also would be surprised at a trade at this point, but the Cubs aren’t holding it back because they think they can win the division – that was always an uncertain proposition with or without Bryant, and it was always the longer-term considerations that informed the Cubs being willing to move Bryant at all. If Bryant is not traded, it will simply be because the monster return wasn’t available at this late stage in the offseason.
- Sahadev Sharma also jumped on The Score later in the morning, sharing his sense that it doesn’t feel like anything is “about to happen.” That, of course, can always change on a dime. Because the reality is, as both Sharma and Rogers noted in their discussions, no one really knows what the Cubs are doing behind the scenes. They just keep this stuff so mum.
- Mark Feinsand looks at five teams that could push to acquire Bryant after the Betts deal is complete, but I have to say, for as plugged in as Feinsand is on the rumor circuit, it’s hard for me to give too much credence to any list like this that includes the Cardinals. In no universe are the Cubs trading Kris Bryant to the Cardinals, and in no universe are the Cardinals sending the Cubs a monster haul of prospects. So why even talk about whether there’s a need and a fit?
- As you’d expect, when speaking with the media in Las Vegas, where he’s been working out, Bryant wasn’t going to speculate about or comment on any rumors out there. He’s just tuning it out as best he can.
- As for the service time grievance decision, on which Bryant has not yet commented, he’s all class:
Cubs 3rd baseman Kris Bryant is declining to discuss his takeaways on the grievance process he underwent with the team out of respect for Chicago media who he says he hasn’t been able to speak with yet. The #lasvegas native says he’ll wait until spring training to do so. @News3LV pic.twitter.com/lmNP4sK3OM
— Amber Dixon (@AmberNews3LV) February 6, 2020