Like a bad case of such-and-such, the Kris Bryant Mets rumors just keep coming back.
Multiple times this offseason, when they’d popped up and receded and seemed dead, the connections – some speculative, some sourced – between the Cubs, the Mets, and Bryant would resurge. At one point, it was even a high alert situation that a trade might go down over a particular weekend.
That trade, of course, did not happen. But with the Cubs ambling slowly downhill toward the July 30 Trade Deadline, you knew they would come back again like a zombie who just won’t leave your brains alone. Via SNY’s Andy Martino:
The team has engaged in very preliminary talks with the Minnesota Twins, who might trade Josh Donaldson. Those conversations have not yet progressed, but Donaldson is a possibility for the Mets.
It’s not yet clear if the Chicago Cubs are going to sell, but the Mets have also been interested in Kris Bryant since the offseason.
Two factors will complicate the Mets’ efforts to make an impactful trade: They are not interested in trading the few top prospects they have in their system, according to sources. And they still prefer to remain under the $210 million luxury tax. By their internal calculations they are less than $10 million shy of that number.
The fit with the Mets has long made sense, and even more so now that they hold onto first place in the NL East. If the Cubs do go into sell mode in a few weeks, the rumors involving Bryant and the Mets (and Donaldson as competition) will get hot.
There are some obvious rubs. For one thing, Bryant has been out of the lineup with a “side” issue, which is the kind of thing that always makes me a little squeamish (and would do the same for a would-be buyer). For another thing, Bryant was one of the worst hitters in baseball in June for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear. And for still another thing, what counts as one of the Mets’ “top” prospects? Is it the Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Matt Allan, Brett Baty, Pete Crow-Armstrong group that is most often in the top 100s or close to it? I could understand that from their perspective, but the system gets ROUGH after that.
But hey, if the Mets are insistent on not exceeding the luxury tax, then the Cubs could and should be in a position to eat some salary to improve the return. They had the money to add at the deadline – as both Jed Hoyer and Crane Kenney said repeatedly – so they should have plenty of money available to pay salary that is already on the books.
Then there’s the Donaldson thing, though he’s on a contract through 2023 with a $23M AAV, so it feels like a very different type of target than a three-month rental of Bryant.
Anyway. We’ll get there if we get there. For now, the only thing to know is that the rumors are going to start popping up again, especially if the Cubs continue to struggle.