It’s very rare that you see a situation where every insider out there agrees that trade talks are, and have been, ongoing about a certain player, but everyone also agrees that they have absolutely no idea whether something is going to happen.
The thing is, after months and months of rumors and speculation, and then a long-awaited service time grievance that simply did not lead to any trade conclusions at all, the prognosticators are burned out on trying to call this one. No one knows whether a deal will happen. Kris Bryant might be traded as soon as today. He might be traded at some random and completely unpredictable time. He might never be traded in his entire life. That’s the reality right now, and although I appreciate Theo Epstein saying yesterday that Bryant is a pro and there are no hard feelings, it has to be weird for everyone to live in this limbo.
The fact that a trade is still clearly a possibility means it’s hard to transition to focusing fully on what the 2020 Cubs can be, despite Epstein’s desire that we all kind of do that: “Whether anything big happens, I don’t know. Obviously, the closer you get to Opening Day, the less likely it is to happen, but there’s still some chatter going on across the industry, but we’re kind of turning the page, honestly, with our focus. We’re excited about the group we have in camp. And it’s time to pull together and focus on winning games.”
That’s just not a hard line on the possibility of significant movement, so, then, the rumors persist.
Among them …
- Jesse Rogers was on ESPN 1000 again last night, reiterating all of this stuff, but noting again that the talks are happening. There is just no question about that part. The question is whether any of it matters, because the Cubs are clearly not motivated to just move Bryant to get something done.
- Interestingly, to that end, Jeff Passan, who was on ESPN 1000 earlier in the day, *did* indicate that the Cubs do want to get *something* done (much like Patrick Mooney had written), though it’s not necessarily going to be something with Bryant. The Cubs are still talking to teams, and they want to make a big move, according to Passan (he mentioned the Rockies and Nolan Arenado again). The Cubs are “absolutely still looking to do something,” and he later emphasized that “oh yeah” the Cubs are still talking about other players, too. They’d move anyone except Javy Baez, Passan said.
- But when it comes to Bryant, it’s still a better than 50% shot he’s still with the Cubs on Opening Day.
- One interesting thing Passan said is that he knows that the Cubs have looked to “get creative” in a Bryant trade, which could mean they were trying to talk to teams that already had a third baseman, but who would presumably be involved in that trade (so it’s pretty hard to know which teams are actually in).
- Add Jon Morosi to the group of insiders, again, offering this same perspective:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 12, 2020
- The Cubs have talked to the Rangers, Rockies, Nationals and Phillies in recent weeks, according to Morosi, but “there is no evidence those discussions have progressed.” Instead, it’s just that conversations have happened, are happening, and the Cubs are declining to set an artificial cut-off for those conversations.
- Speaking of the Phillies, and this was something Michael mentioned yesterday, but I really want to hammer home: it is notable that the Phillies seem to see it as likely that the Cubs MAY require BOTH Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard (each is a top 30ish prospect in baseball), PLUS MORE for Bryant, per The Athletic. That is the kind of price tag you set when you are not affirmatively looking to move a guy, but instead it’s just gotta be an obvious, no-brainer yes. And maybe that was the right level for Bryant all along. But it could also just be a reflection that the Phillies – without other obvious, great pieces that work for the Cubs – were always a poor fit in these talks, since Bohm and Howard are so far above and beyond what you might want elsewhere in the organization. Like I said before, the Cubs would not be wrong to ask for them both, and the Phillies would not be wrong to say no.