The Chicago Cubs are searching for answers after missing the playoffs for the first time in five years, and one of the team’s biggest stars could be on the trading block as multiple clubs have reportedly expressed interest in his services.
According to multiple reports, there are several teams interested in acquiring third baseman Kris Bryant via trade this offseason. Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP and a three-time All-Star, hit 31 home runs and drove in 77 RBI’s for the Cubs in 2019, but now finds himself the subject of trade rumors at baseball’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
The Cubs are looking to potentially cut payroll and add younger talent to their roster as they try to get back into the postseason under new manager David Ross. Bryant would almost certainly accomplish both goals, as he could make nearly $20 million in arbitration this offseason and would command a steep price from any team willing to acquire him.
Despite that interest, there are several potential hurdles for the team to clear before a theoretical Bryant move could be made. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cubs are hoping that a pair of big-name free agents will sign with teams first, thus paving the way for a team who missed out on the stars to make a run at the third baseman.
“The Cubs are awaiting the signings of free-agent third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, believing the losers of those sweepstakes will be prime targets for a Kris Bryant trade,” Rosenthal said in his story on The Athletic (subscription required).
The market for Bryant could also be held up by an ongoing grievance over the Cubs’ handling of Bryant’s call-up in 2015. A resolution on the matter isn’t expected to be reached for several more weeks, and in the event that an arbitrator rules in Bryant’s favor, he could become a free agent after the 2020 season, rather than the 2021 campaign.
Even with those potential stumbling blocks, the Cubs have still been hearing from multiple teams about a trade for Bryant. According to Bruce Levine of 670 the Score, the Philadelphia Phillies have reached out to the Cubs about a potential trade for Bryant. Not only do the Phillies have a serious need at third base, but the team also has outfielder Bryce Harper in the fold, and the friendship between the two could make Philadelphia an attractive option for the slugger.
Another team potentially in the Bryant market, the Washington Nationals, appear to be out on Rendon in free agency, and Bryant would be an excellent consolation prize. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Nationals have reached out to the Cubs about a Bryant deal if they fail to bring Rendon back on a free agent contract.
The discussion over Bryant will likely continue well past the end of the Winter Meetings, which wrap up on Wednesday.