Hey, Rick Hahn, you won’t believe the deal the Cubs have for you.
High-performance center fielder broke down? Don’t know when you’ll get your left fielder started again?
Come on down to Jed’s Used WAR Emporium and check out the hottest running MVP model on the lot before the July sales season gets started.
Full disclosure: We don’t know that Cubs president Jed Hoyer will actually sell you what’s left of the final year of Kris Bryant’s contract, only that he’ll listen — and that he should.
But, then, he also should have had him under contract on an extension by now and that didn’t happen.
What we know for sure is what we saw in January with that Yu Darvish trade and what we’ve seen since from a team off to its worst start in seven years, thanks to some resulting starting pitching problems and overall depth issues.
So act now, while supplies last, Rick! Players like this won’t be around all summer!
Push, pull or drag your best three or four teenage trade-ins (or maybe Yoelqui Cespedes?) for a chance to pull your outfield out of the 2021 crapper and restore those World Series visions you’ve been selling on the South Side the last six months.
What’s in it for Hoyer and the Cubs?
We already can see the drool on ownership’s face at the mere mention of the additional prorated part of Bryant’s $19.5 million salary coming off the books instead of waiting until perhaps July to consider trading him.
From Hoyer’s perspective? Did we mention Cespedes?
Whether Hahn, the Sox general manager, is willing to part with the top international player from the recent signing class, he needs a definitive, bold response to losing outfielders Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez to months-long injuries — unless all that talk about World Series expectations was just so much blowing smoke.
Bryant, who followed up his Player of the Week honors Monday by raking against Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer in a doubleheader Tuesday, would be the signature move — literally the MVP move — to make.
Trades in early May are rare, and any beyond the nature of minor roster tweaking rarer still.
But even big trades in May are not unheard of. The Cardinals traded for eventual Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda (at age 28) in 1966 on May 8. The Phillies traded for Dick Allen in 1975 on May 7. The defending American League-champion Yankees traded for former All-Star John Mayberry in 1982 after a 9-13 start on May 5.
There’s precedent for both the Sox and Cubs — in the scenario each finds itself in now.
The Cubs traded eventual Hall of Famer Billy Herman to the Dodgers for two players and cash on May 6, 1941. And in 1975, they traded pitcher Burt Hooton to the Dodger on May 2 — before Hooton made 30 starts for the Dodgers the rest of that season, going 18-7 with a 2.82 ERA, and becoming a rotation fixture for three Dodger World Series teams.
And the last two times the White Sox played in the World Series they tried to add help to the roster in May, including, in 1959, a pair of early May trades and the May 11 purchase from Detroit of Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby in Doby’s final season.
A Cubs-Sox trade involving Bryant could be one of the biggest, boldest May trades ever.
But Hahn has to want it bad, because if he doesn’t go all-in, there’s not much reason for Hoyer to listen.
And Hahn should. It’s hard to imagine another player providing a better fit for what the Sox need now — an immediate jump-start to the lineup that is an offensive upgrade to even a healthy Robert or Jimenez. And he can play all three outfield positions well in addition to his fluency at third base.
And the Cubs aren’t fooling anyone, or going anywhere this season, Tuesday’s effort against Kershaw and Bauer notwithstanding.
Hahn could provide Hoyer the chance to leverage a torrid start and twice the remaining weeks in the season for Bryant by entertaining a contender’s extreme need now instead of waiting for the July market to develop.
It probably makes too much sense to think that needle could actually be threaded — especially if anybody still feels haunted by James Shields and Fernando Tatis Jr. or anybody else feels haunted by Jose Quintana.
But if one of these guys hasn’t called the other by the time you read the last word of this sentence, then there’s a lot more wrong with Chicago baseball this year than Darvish in a Padres uniform.