I just listened to Jesse Rogers on ESPN1000 with Kap and Hood, and he dropped a whopper of a bold prediction, which was based on things he’s heard publicly and privately. He believes it is now more likely the Cubs start the year with Kris Bryant on the roster than Yu Darvish.
Darvish, Rogers has heard, is out there in the trade market, and when there’s talk about “everyone is available,” that really is true with respect to Darvish. Or so he’s heard. Rogers was careful to hedge that things could always change, but he believes the Cubs aren’t hearing what they were hoping to hear on Bryant in the trade market, and instead could consider getting huge value from a Darvish trade in this particular market.
NOTE: None of this is to say Rogers claimed a Darvish trade was likely. Just that it was possible, and perhaps more likely at this point than a Bryant trade.
We’ve talked about Darvish as a trade piece for the Cubs right now, and you know the countervailing issues. On the one hand, Darvish is 34, is coming off a Cy-Young-caliber season, is owed just $59 million over the next three years, and would be extremely attractive in a pitching-needy market. On the other hand, Darvish is critical to the Cubs’ rotation actually being solid in 2021+, is on a good deal for the Cubs, has a 12-team no-trade clause, and is a very popular Cub. It’s easy to say, ah, hey, a guy has a ton of trade value, cash in! It’s a much tougher thing to actually do that deal and then manage the fallout.
Listening to Rogers, though, I have to tell you: his bold prediction wasn’t just about Bryant definitely sticking with the Cubs, and he was using Darvish as an example of how likely it is that Bryant stays. Instead, he really did seem to be saying he’s heard the Cubs would move Darvish for a monster return (rather than moving Bryant for 50 cents on the dollar, as he put it). It had the air of yeah, he’s heard some things.
To that end, sure, as we’ve said all along, there is a package that you’d simply have to consider for a Darvish trade. As much as I’d hate to see Darvish go, there are versions of a monster trade that make too much sense for the Cubs in the near-and-medium-term not to execute. Especially if you’re looking to pull off a “heavy restart” on the roster.
I guess we’ll see if this goes anywhere. We’ve seen lots of speculation outside of Chicago about Darvish this offseason, but not really any hard-and-fast rumors. For teams that view Darvish as Trevor Bauer’s equal over the next three years (easily possible), then certainly having him for 3/$59 million is far, far more attractive than committing 6+ and $150+ million to Bauer.
As for Bryant, while it’s clear the Cubs would take an acceptable deal for Bryant at this point, that deal may not present itself. And in that case, as we’ve discussed, it’s not as if the Cubs absolutely, positively have to dump Bryant. Of course, I’d argue that if the Cubs trade Darvish, then keeping Bryant for 2021 becomes a whole lot less compelling, doesn’t it?