While the heat has turned considerably down from earlier this month, I don’t know that much has changed with respect to the Kris Bryant trade situation. If the Cubs get an acceptable offer, they will take it. It has become quite clear that pushing in for 2021 is not a thing, and slashing payroll for 2021 is a thing. If the Cubs can pick up a prospect or two in the process, they will consider it a win-win. Feel about that however you would like to feel.
To that end, interesting side mention just now from Buster Olney:
In the category of informed speculation: I asked one club official not involved in Kris Bryant talks where he thinks the Cubs third baseman will land. His guess is Mets or Jays.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 25, 2021
I am not interested in taking too much away from this, given that it’s a not-involved-executive doing his/her own speculating. But Olney is right that it’s probably “informed,” and by more than we outsiders have.
What’s more notable here is that the expectation around the league still seems to be that Bryant will be traded at some point. Each of the Mets or Blue Jays make sense in terms of their own efforts for 2021, and I think there are a handful of other teams you could put into that category. The rub, of course, is the $19.5 million salary that the Cubs don’t appear too keen on eating any of in order to improve the return (can’t you at least take on a contract – maybe even a useful player! – to get a good return if you’re so dang committed to trading the guy?).
Rumors connecting the Cubs and Kris Bryant to the Mets are not new – they were hot and heavy a couple weeks ago, actually – and there was a stray rumor this weekend about Bryant and the Blue Jays.
Bryant, 29, is coming off a lost season, during which he was able to play just 34 games thanks to combined impact of the pandemic and injuries. Before last year, he was still quite good, and any acquiring team would be betting that 2020 was a total throwaway season. For the Cubs, if they do not trade Bryant, they could conceivably look to deal Bryant at the deadline, but (1) market prices for position players tend to come down at the deadline, (2) you risk further injury and/or underperformance, and (3) if no trade materializes, you can’t even bank on significant draft pick compensation after the season depending on what Bryant looks like to the free agent market at that point.
That is all to say, if the Cubs do not ultimately trade Bryant, it would have to be about, you know, wanting to actually compete in 2021 in the terrible NL Central. Since virtually nothing they’ve done this offseason suggests they are actually urging themselves toward that direction, and since a long-term extension with Bryant doesn’t seem likely, getting a quality trade return might be their best option at this point (even if the return would be quite modest). Again: feel about that however you want to feel. No one should tell you to be happy about the Cubs trading away star players, regardless of their proximity to free agency or the team’s unwillingness to spend …