In evaluating possible moves the Cubs could look to make this offseason, the Tribune’s Mark Gonzales included a very interesting couple lines about Kris Bryant.
It just seems pretty pointed, especially given what we expect the Cubs are trying to do (trade Bryant before the December 2 non-tender deadline), to include this as the initial focus of his section on Bryant:
Two sources confirmed the Red Sox and Cubs discussed Bryant this summer, but those talks faded.
Rafael Devers is the incumbent at third base, which means the Red Sox would envision Bryant as a left fielder.
The Red Sox’s farm system isn’t deep, but they have a lot of money after clearing the salaries of David Price and Mookie Betts by trading them to the Dodgers in February.
Now, when I say that was “pointed,” don’t mistake me – I’m not saying Gonzales is including it because he thinks a deal *with the Red Sox* is highly likely. We’ll talk about that fit in a moment. Instead, I just think it’s very interesting that Gonzales is spending time NOW to tee up the fact that the Cubs had these talks OVER THE SUMMER on Bryant. That is to say, it’s all the more evidence, in my view, that the Cubs know they really want to trade Bryant right now. They wanted to trade him last offseason, in my view, but that got blown up by the service time grievance decision timeline. Now, I think the urgency is all the more strong, given the final year of control and the pandemic finances. It’s so strong that the Cubs were considering doing it JUST BEFORE OR DURING a season in which they were COMFORTABLY leading the NL Central.
But let’s talk about the Red Sox, specifically, for a moment. Given how they approached the 2020 season, it would’ve shocked me to see them go out and add a guy like Bryant before or during the season. It wound up becoming a total tank year for the Red Sox, who finished with the fourth worst record in baseball. Having Bryant wouldn’t have made a difference and might’ve just “cost” them a few losses if he’d been healthy and productive. And it was clear how things were trending very, very quickly in the season, so yeah, it’s odd.
HOWEVER! The Red Sox, with their theoretical financial might and the moves they made last year as part of their own “heavy restart,” might be looking for a very quick bounce-back in 2021. And if they don’t want to make long-term additions and also don’t want to give up massive prospect value in trade, then, as weird as the fit might seem, they might not be able to do better than a one-year shot on a guy like Bryant.
So I guess we’ll keep the Red Sox in mind when thinking about plausible Bryant trade destinations. When we talk about the post-hype mold we’ve discussed with the Nationals, it’s a little less obvious on the Red Sox. Andrew Benintendi missed most of 2020 with an injury after taking a big step back in 2019, and the Cubs reportedly did like him a whole lot in the draft. Then again, he’s signed for next year at $6.6 million, and then has only one more year of arbitration control thereafter. Not necessarily quite what the Cubs would be looking for. Does Michael Chavis count? He wasn’t quite a tip-top prospect in his day, but was a pretty well-considered one with great minor league numbers. He was meh in 2019 and then really rough last year. Not sure how much the glove offers you, and his strikeout rates have been scary.
I could go on, but it’s all a little speculative at this point.
From where I sit, the main takeaway here is less about the Red Sox, specifically, and more about it being another note that, yeah, the Cubs would clearly prefer to trade Bryant for a little bit of value right now, all else equal.